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Dermatology on the Global Stage: The role of dermatologists in international health advocacy and COVID-19 research

Over the last decade there has been a surge in interest and funding for global health dermatology. Skin conditions are now recognized to be the fourth leading cause of nonfatal disease burden worldwide in disability-adjusted life years. Dermatologists are uniquely positioned within global health, given that skin conditions are often the presenting sign of severe illnesses such as neglected tropical diseases and COVID-19.

We review four major areas of work by dermatologists within global health: i) characterizing global burden of skin disease, ii) advocacy for dermatologic therapies on the WHO's Essential Medicines list, iii) advancements in global programming for skin-related tropical diseases, and iv) the role of the dermatologists in COVID-19 pandemic. For each area of work, the significance and impact on the health of women and girls is briefly highlighted.

Dermatologists have led the efforts to quantify and evaluate the global burden of skin disease, the burden of which is disproportionately shared by women. The dermatology community has also championed global efforts in the elimination of skin-related neglected tropical diseases such as scabies. Through national and international policy advocacy, dermatologists have pushed for more dermatologic therapies in the World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines, helping to secure better care for patients suffering from skin disease throughout the world. As of 2020, the dermatology community worked collaboratively in the fight against COVID-19, establishing a worldwide registry for cutaneous manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 and pursuing research that has allowed colleagues in the house of medicine to better understand this landmark disease.

Through the study and promotion of global health, dermatologists have an important role in the house of medicine.

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Journal Article
Prasad S
Bassett IV
Freeman EE