Rural doctors urged to diagnose NTDs early

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Tuesday, 5 November, 2013

Rick Speare, THS Director, delivered a key note address, Don't neglect the NTDs! to rural doctors at the Rural Medicine Australia 2013 Conference in Cairns last week. NTDs are Neglected Tropical Diseases, a collection of diseases of global significance most prevalent in neglected and underserved populations. There are 17 NTDs and 5 neglected conditions. Inclusion in the list of NTDs is highly political (at the global health level).

Australia is in the fortunate position of having only 5/17 of the NTDs and 3/5 of the neglected conditions. The endemic Australian NTDs are: soil transmitted helminths, echinococcosis, leprosy, Buruli ulcer, trachoma, strongyloides, scabies and snakebite. Rick urged rural doctors to look out for the NTDs, both those imported with travelers and those that are endemic. Awareness leads to early diagnosis. He also highlighted the scandalous situation of Australia being the only developed country still with trachoma. The incidence of trachoma, strongyloidiasis and scabies is shockingly high in rural and remote Aboriginal communities.

Good news! A national program is bringing trachoma under control. The One Disease program in East Arnhem Land is showing signs of impacting on scabies. Strongyloidiasis in Aboriginal communities is still largely ignored although some Aboriginal Controlled Health Services (e.g., Miwatj Health) are tackling the problem.

Presentation is available at Slide Share.

Posted by Rick Speare