Togo’s neglected tropical skin diseases leprosy, scabies, and yaws need treatment 2023

Neglected tropical illnesses are 20 tropical diseases linked to poverty. Scabies, leprosy, and yaws are examples. They are caused by bacteria, viruses, mosquitoes, or mites and impact over one billion people globally, mostly in low-income countries, according to the WHO.

Most African nations have these skin disorders. In 2020, 341 million Africans were at danger of lymphatic filariasis (an abnormal growth of body parts that causes pain and incapacity). Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is 99 percent continental.

Poverty, congestion, hunger, and humidity harm children more than adults.

Neglected tropical skin illnesses are stigmatized and can damage quality of life and mental health. Dermatologists are scarce in locations where they are common, making diagnosis challenging.

In west Africa’s Togo, our team studied these illnesses’ burden. Many skin diseases and social consequences were common. To encourage early reporting of occurrences to the health sector, local and national health authorities in Togo and Africa should explore integrating skin management with public education.

What We found

Two schools in Lomé, Togo’s capital city, and one rural hamlet, Ndjéi, 400km north-east of Lomé, were studied.

Between June and October 2021, schools and communities hosted mobile clinics. Participants received free medications. Referrals to healthcare services were made when needed. The team recorded WHO-listed skin illnesses and fungal disorders.

1,401 persons were skin-examined. Ndjéi had 954 (68.1%). 447 of 782 regularly enrolled youngsters in Lomé were assessed.

Skin infections were common. Neglected tropical diseases affected 105 skin cases (7.5 per cent of all the people we examined had one of these diseases). Fungal illness affected 333 persons (23.8 per cent of all the people we examined had a fungal disease). Though rates vary, these statistics may be comparable to other research. In Ethiopia, fungal illness prevalence was 21%, close to our 23.8 percent. Another Benin research found 49% prevalence.

20 schools and 85 rural communities had cutaneous neglected tropical disease cases. Rural locations have more neglected tropical illnesses.

68 children (6.7%) and 37 adults (9.7%) had neglected tropical illnesses in school and community data.

Scabies was the most common skin illness (other than fungal) in 86 cases (6.1 per cent). Mites crawl into the skin and deposit eggs, causing scabies. Itchy and can cause renal disease and other skin illnesses. Benzyl benzoate lotion and ivermectin pills kill scabies mites in Africa.

Traditional African skin infection treatments like herbal cataplasm (a home-made therapeutic paste of herbs and plants) may not work. They may induce subsequent bacterial infections or eczema surrounding wounds.

Our examination identified leprosy, yaws, and Buruli ulcer.

An appeal

Stigma was also part of the investigation. Five (6%) children with cutaneous neglected tropical illnesses were stigmatized in school, and four of them refused to go. 44 (4.6%) Ndjei individuals felt stigma, while 41 (93.2%) skipped school or employment.

Skin problems are stigmatized and cause absenteeism, thus health authorities should provide free consultations and medications. Health promotion and education matter. This may encourage medical treatment. The WHO neglected tropical diseases roadmap recommends coordinated management and mass medication administration to control the illnesses.

This study documented skin neglected tropical illness and fungal infections in school and rural Togo. Togo and the WHO received the data.

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