Chronic skin condition in the spotlight in Tanzania
THE Dean and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine and internationally-renowned dermatologist, Professor Ncoza Dlova, spent a week in Tanzania assisting in the management and understanding of psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that speeds up the turnover of skin cells resulting in scales and red patches (in light skin) that are sometimes itchy. There is no cure for psoriasis, but it can be controlled through measures such as weight loss, skin moisturising, quitting smoking and managing stress.
She was a member of a team from the Global Psoriasis Atlas (GPA) that selected the Regional Dermatology Training Centre (RDTC) in Moshi as an ideal base to conduct research on psoriasis, a common skin condition.
The team worked with students and staff at the centre, conducting workshops, teaching research methods in epidemiological studies and carrying out surveys on psoriasis prevalence in and around Moshi.
Dlova, who is the regional director of the GPA, plans to conduct similar prevalence and incidence studies with her local colleagues, including Dr Kiasha Govender, on psoriasis in South Africa.
A world expert in psoriasis and director of the GPA, Professor Christopher Griffiths of Manchester University in England, commented on Dlova’s contribution: “Her contribution to the workshop, surveys and in the clinic was invaluable and we can’t thank her enough.
“In addition to this, her impromptu skin health education and motivational presentation was a tremendous success and appreciated by students, teachers and colleagues alike.”
Access to care in Tanzania is extremely limited with 31 dermatologists among a population of 57 million people. The team found that the majority of patients in the RDTC who had psoriasis were in fact misdiagnosed at some stage as having fungal infections. Hence, they were not on the correct treatment.
Further treatment of psoriasis is extremely expensive, which leads patients to seek cheap, over-the-counter products. Also, many of the patients travelled long distances of up to 600km to attend the clinic.
The GPA is an international consortium working in co-operation with the World Health Organization to ascertain the true global burden of psoriasis. The GPA’s mission is to be the leading epidemiological resource on psoriasis globally, thus informing research, policy and health-care provision for the disease worldwide.
There is not a lot of data on the prevalence and incidence of psoriasis in developing countries, hence one of the missions of the GPA is to generate such information. Griffiths, in collaboration with Dlova, is hoping to bring the team to South Africa soon to conduct similar research.
The GPA team was awarded funding from the Global Challenges Research Fund to perform the preliminary studies on psoriasis prevalence and burden at the RDTC in Moshi.