Fungal diseases in Africa: Closing the gaps in diagnosis and treatment through implementation research and advocacy
Fungal diseases impose an escalating burden on public health in Africa, exacerbated by issues such as delayed diagnosis, inadequate therapy, and limited access to healthcare resources, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Effectively tackling these challenges demands a comprehensive approach encompassing research, training, and advocacy initiatives. Recent clinical mycology surveys conducted by Global Action for Fungal Infection (GAFFI) and the European Confederation of Medical Mycology/International Society for Human and Animal Mycology (ECMM/ISHAM) have underscored gaps in fungal diagnostics and the availability and accessibility of antifungal therapy in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) Fungal Priority Pathogens List (FPPL) identifies fungi of critical or high importance to human health, providing a roadmap for action and highlighting the urgent need for prioritizing fungal diseases and developing targeted interventions within the African context. To enhance diagnosis and treatment, it is imperative to invest in comprehensive training programs for healthcare workers across all levels and disciplines. Equipping them with the necessary knowledge and skills will facilitate early detection, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate management of fungal infections. Moreover, implementation science research in medical mycology assumes a pivotal role in bridging the gap between knowledge and practice. By identifying the barriers and facilitators that influence the adoption of diagnostic techniques and public health interventions, tailored strategies can be formulated to improve their implementation within healthcare settings. Advocacy plays a critical role in raising awareness regarding the profound impact of fungal diseases on public health in Africa. Engaging policymakers, healthcare providers, researchers, industry experts and communities underscore the importance of addressing these diseases and galvanize efforts for change. Substantial investment in surveillance, research and development specifically focused on fungal diseases is indispensable for advancing our understanding of local epidemiology, developing effective interventions, and ultimately improving patient outcomes. In conclusion, closing the gaps in diagnosing and treating fungal diseases in Africa demands concerted research and advocacy initiatives to ensure better healthcare delivery, reduced mortality rates, and improved public health outcomes.