Skin Disease in the Tropics and the Lessons that can be Learned from Leprosy and Other Neglected Diseases
Roderick J. Hay
Skin disease is a common illness in most tropical regions where the pattern of clinical, presentations is dominated by infections. Along with common diseases such as pyodermas and fungal infections, a group of conditions known collectively as the neglected tropical diseases of the skin or Skin NTDs, which are the targets for worldwide control or elimination are also seen in health care facilities. These diseases range from the common, such a scabies, to those that are less frequent including leprosy and mycetoma. The initiative to use skin presentations of tropical diseases as a route to diagnosis by front line health workers is both logical and welcome. However, this requires training and monitoring and as the work gets under way, it is critically important that time invested in this programme is backed by firm and lasting commitment at regional and national levels.
Skin diseases are very common in the tropics. They include illnesses like ringworm, impetigo and scabies. A recent WHO programme has been to take advantage of the fact that many of the serious diseases seen in the tropics, such as leprosy and river blindness, first appear in the skin and that by detecting them, because of their appearances in the skin, their treatment and control becomes much more feasible.