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Sustaining Leprosy Elimination and Stigma Reduction through Capacity Building
By: Roy Lawrence S. Paredes MD
Last May 15-19 2017, the Research Institute For Tropical Medicine Department of Dermatology held its workshop entitled Sustaining Leprosy Elimination and Stigma Reduction through Capacity building at the Bellevue Hotel, Alabang Muntinlupa. The National Leprosy Control Program in partnership with PDS and RITM is working towards a Leprosy-Free Philippines.
The workshop was designed to provide knowledge regarding leprosy in the country while providing practical tips when it comes to dealing with patients who have the disease. Dr. Alexander R. Castillo presented the epidemiology of the disease as well as programs by the government to address this public health problem. Common skin lesions are then discussed by Dr. Maria Teresita G. Gabriel to the participants which aims to equip them in handling dermatologic problems that are commonly seen in the outpatient department. Given the spectrum of the lesions of leprosy, mimickers were also explained by Dr. Clarisse G. Mendoza so as to familiarize patients regarding certain lesions that look like the disease. Since Hansens Disease often affects the nervous system, nerve function tests are also taught while highlighting certain nerves that are usually affected by the disease. Exercises by Dr. Gracia B. Teodosio, which aim to rehabilitate disability were then done in order to help patients if ever they would already present with a disability. Ancillaries to be done before starting treatment was facilitated by Dr. Reynaldo Ugalde. This would help participants to screen future patients if they would have underlying comorbidities such as Pulmonary tuberculosis or G6PD which should be dealt with before the patient would start any treatment. The rational for Multidrug Therapy as well as alternative medications were highlighted as well as proper intake for special patients such as children or those with G6PD. Recent research studies were then presented which included the use of Fusidic acid as steroid sparer in the treatment of Lepra reactions as well as ophthalmologic profile of Leprosy patients seen at RITM. On the 4th day, participants were then introduced to common Genital lesions as well as their management by Dr. Emmerson Vista. As a tool to monitor patient response to medications, slit skin smear as well as acid fast staining were then discussed through a video presentation by Grace Manuel. Lepra Reactions as well as management was then thoroughly discussed by Dr. Gabriel. On the 5th day participants were assessed through a post-test and the activity was then capped off by the giving of certificates and a group picture. In the end, participants went home to their respective regions equipped with knowledge on recognizing and managing patients with leprosy.