International Community Health Services (ICHS) has received a grant of $115,000 to support a new program to develop greater awareness of hepatitis B, a virus that afflicts an unusually high percentage of Asians and Pacific Islanders, potentially leading to liver disease and death.
The grant, announced on December 31 by the Ann Wu Liao Foundation, will support ICHS efforts to do community outreach and education about hepatitis B over the next 10 years.
ICHS is the largest Asian Pacific American health care provider in the Pacific Northwest, serving over 21,000 patients in nearly 50 different languages at seven different locations in Seattle, Bellevue and Shoreline.
Ambassador Daniel Liao, representative of the Taipei Mission in Sweden, came to the ICHS International District clinic on New Year’s eve to announce the grant and issue the first installment of the hepatitis B grant. He met with Ron Chew, ICHS Foundation director, and Michael McKee, ICHS director of health services and community partnerships. Liao previously served as secretary general of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs and was former Director General of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office here in Seattle.
Liao said his late wife, for whom the family foundation is named, was a carrier of the hepatitis B virus. She passed away in September, 2008. “To remember her, we set up the fund,” Liao said. “When I came to Seattle and learned that there was such a meaningful organization like ICHS to promote awareness of hepatitis B, I was determined to support it. My hope is that my humble donation can help spread awareness and reach people in the greater Washington state community.”
Liao added that he will be working with the ICHS Foundation to approach other funders to also contribute to this initiative.
“We are thrilled to receive this generous donation,” McKee said. He noted that approximately one in 12 Asians are “chronically infected” with hepatitis B. “Many do not know it until it is too late,” he said. “They may already be diagnosed with liver problems or cancer. Community outreach, education and raising awareness about screening is critical to helping people get care early.”