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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 895-903

The dermlep study part 2: Results of a nation-wide survey of dermatologists’ access to quality leprosy services at their clinics and hospitals in India

1 Department of Dermatology, Bhaskar Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Dermatology, Smt. NHL Municipal Medical College, Ahmedabad, India
3 Institute for Specialized Services in Leprosy (INSSIL), Nireekshana ACET, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
4 Department of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
5 Department of Dermatology, Sree Krishna Hospital, Karamsad, Anand, Gujarat, India
6 Department of Dermatology, AIIMS, Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India

Correspondence Address:
P Narasimha Rao
Department of Dermatology, Bhaskar Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/idoj.IDOJ_668_20

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Introduction: Dermatologists in India are trained and qualified to treat leprosy and there is evidence to suggest that they are involved in the diagnosis and management of a significant number of leprosy patients in the country. The present study evaluated the access to quality leprosy services at their clinics and hospitals to understand the extent of their role in providing comprehensive care to people affected by leprosy and how it can be organized further. Methods: The DermLep Study was a pan-India questionnaire-based survey carried out to evaluate the role that dermatologists play in leprosy management in the country. It included as part-2 of the survey, 11 questions on the access of the dermatologist to various quality leprosy services available at the clinic or institution including skin smears, skin biopsy, multidrug therapy (MDT) blister packs, basic physiotherapy services, and reporting to the national program (NLEP). Results: The dermatologists who participated in the survey included 101 private practitioners and 100 working in Government or private medical institutions. The key findings of the survey were that 78% of the participating dermatologists still encounter leprosy patients frequently in their clinics; 81.0% of them had access to skin smears; and 93.4% to skin biopsy. The World Health Organization (WHO) MDT regimen was followed by 79.0% of the dermatologists in the study, majority of whom were those working in medical colleges (88%); however overall, 87.4% extended the regimen beyond the fixed duration, mostly on a case to case basis. Thalidomide was available for 61.1% of them to treat type 2 reactions. Basic physiotherapy services were available with 70.2% of dermatologists surveyed; 58.9% dermatologists had access to MCR footwear; and RCS facility access known to 45.5% of them. About 83.5% of the dermatologists working in institutions were reporting their leprosy cases to the NLEP, whereas from a high percentage (71.4%) of dermatologists in private practice, cases were not captured in routine under NLEP. Conclusion: Dermatologists in India have the clinical skill, expertise, and access to most of the basic services, including skin smear and skin biopsy facilities needed to provide comprehensive care to leprosy patients in post-elimination era of integration of leprosy services. While dermatologists are already managing leprosy patients both at medical institutes and private clinics across India, their “structured” involvement at all levels in the national program will facilitate improved reporting and cataloging of cases seen by them. It will also elevate standards of leprosy care; create an effective public-private partnership and disease expertise; and assist develop a comprehensive, patient-tailored approach in the leprosy program in India.

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