Medical management refers to the medical treatment of disease, such as drugs to treat symptoms, medical cream for wound care etc.
If an NTD infection prolongs or enters the chronic stage several complications could arise, for example cardiac or digestive complications in Chagas Disease. These complications require medical treatment to prevent further pain, disabilities or even death. Furthermore, during the course of leprosy, acute inflammation reactions (i.e. neuritis, corneal ulceration) may occur that may rapidly cause severe and irreversible (nerve) damage and must always be treated promptly. Therefore, medical management is relevant to NTDs to prevent deteriorating of the disease, pain and disabilities.
For which NTDs is this relevant?
Medical management is relevant for all NTDs.
Although the control of onchocerciasis and leprosy are public health success stories, these diseases are still significant causes of blindness — each affecting a quarter of a million individuals. The usage of contaminated traditional eye medicines in the community has also been implicated as a major risk factor in the current epidemic of corneal ulceration in developing countries. Therefore, to decrease the global burden of corneal blindness, NTD programs should integrate a health education element on the use of traditional medicine decrease. Furthermore, for many NTDs medical management and self-care practices are already intertwined, for example in the management of LF-related lymphedema. People affected by lymphedema are trained to practice good hygiene, self-care by washing the affected limbs and apply medical cream to prevent acute attacks and deteriorating of the disease. However, access to clean water is essential for self-care practices, but this is a major problem in the NTD-endemic and poor areas. Therefore, for more effective NTD management the focus now needs to be on integrating WASH elements into the NTD programs.