Developing consensus of evidence to target case finding surveys for podoconiosis: a potentially forgotten disease in India.
BACKGROUND: Podoconiosis is a non-infectious geochemical lymphoedema of the lower legs associated with a significant burden of morbidity. There are historical reports of podoconiosis in India, but its current endemicity status is uncertain. In this investigation we aimed to prioritise the selection of districts for pilot mapping of podoconiosis in India.
METHODS: Through a consultative workshop bringing together expert opinion on podoconiosis with public health and NTDs in India, we developed a framework for the prioritisation of pilot areas. The four criteria for prioritisation were predicted environmental suitability for podoconiosis, higher relative poverty, occurrence of lymphoedema cases detected by the state health authorities and absence of morbidity management and disability prevention (MMDP) services provided by the National Programme for Elimination of Lymphatic Filariasis.
RESULTS: Environmental suitability for podoconiosis in India was predicted to be widespread, particularly in the mountainous east and hilly southwest of the country. Most of the districts with higher levels of poverty were in the central east and central west. Of 286 districts delineated by state representatives, lymphoedema was known to the health system in 189 districts and not recorded in 80. Information on MMDP services was unavailable for many districts, but 169 were known not to provide such services. We identified 35 districts across the country as high priority for mapping based on these criteria.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate widespread presence of conditions associated with podoconiosis in India, including areas with known lymphoedema cases and without MMDP services. This work is intended to support a rational approach to surveying for an unrecognised, geographically focal, chronic disease in India, with a view to scaling up to inform a national strategy if required.