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ILDS, Patient Associations Call for Prioritization of Skin Diseases on a Global Scale

News
Article

The organizations called for skin health to be considered a global public health priority in a recent side meeting at the World Health Assembly.

Members of the ILDS and various patient organizations pose
Image Credit: ILDS

Recently, at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, the International League of Dermatological Societies (ILDS) and the International Alliance of Dermatology Patient Associations (GlobalSkin) convened for a side meeting to shed light on the substantial burden, impact, and cost of skin diseases worldwide.1

The meeting, titled, "Skin Diseases as a Global Public Health Priority," served as a platform for advocating for the elevation of skin diseases as a priority within global public health agendas, as the ILDS and patient organizations called upon public health systems and leaders to offer higher prioritization to the awareness and research of skin diseases.

Central to the discourse were insights shared by speakers representing various stakeholders, including host associations, the World Health Organization (WHO), and Ministers of Health. Personal testimonies were also provided from several patient advocates.

Key among the presentations was the revelation of statistics by Professor Luca Borradori, chair of the ILDS Patients’ Organizations Committee, highlighting that there exist over 3,000 identified skin diseases. These conditions collectively accounted for 4.69 billion new cases diagnosed in 2021, ranking as the world’s fourth leading cause of non-fatal burden and among the top 10 causes of disability, according to Borradori.

The meeting also addressed the challenges hindering equitable access to dermatological care, as articulated by doctor Claire Fuller, chair of the ILDS' International Foundation for Dermatology, and Jennifer Austin, chief executive officer of GlobalSkin.

Primary among these challenges is a scarcity adequately trained dermatologists, compounded by inadequate dermatology training in many medical schools globally, they argued. Consequently, patients often endure long wait times to access specialist care, with some unable to access it altogether.

In response to these challenges, the ILDS and GlobalSkin outlined crucial objectives deemed essential for improving global skin health. These objectives include:

  • Advocating for a comprehensive approach encompassing all skin diseases
  • Bolstering health investments to expand expertise among primary health care workers
  • Supporting research initiatives for innovative diagnostic tools and treatments
  • Strengthening the role of the WHO in advancing coordinated data collection and health care training

Furthermore, there was a call for heightened collaboration between affected individuals, health care professionals, and policymakers, emphasizing the need for collective action to address the multifaceted challenges posed by skin diseases effectively.

As a result of the meeting, the ILDS announced its collaboration with the WHO to develop a specific section on skin diseases in the WHO Global Health Observatory.

"Driving improvements in access to skin health is a key goal of the ILDS so we were delighted to co-host this meeting with GlobalSkin. We thank the speakers and participants for their excellent contributions and moving personal testimonies," said ILDS President Henry Lim, MD. "They have spurred us on in our work to promote better understanding, support and action for those affected by skin diseases worldwide.”

Marc Yale, co-moderator of the event and board president of GlobalSkin, echoed Lim and the ILDS' sentiments.

“People living with these conditions face psychosocial challenges in addition to the physical symptoms of their disease," Yale said. "For many patients, this is a lifelong burden. And, in many cultures, this can have devastating social impacts. This must change.”

Reference

  1. Dermatology and patient associations call for skin diseases to be a global public health priority. News release. Accessed June 13, 2024.
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