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Randomized trial evaluating an mHealth intervention for the early community-based detection and follow-up of cutaneous leishmaniasis in rural Colombia


Background: In Latin America, cutaneous leishmaniasis primarily affects dispersed rural communities, that have limited access to the public health system and medical attention. Mobile health (mHealth) strategies have shown potential to improve clinical management and epidemiological surveillance of neglected tropical diseases, particularly those of the skin.

Methods: The Guaral +ST app for Android was designed to monitor cutaneous leishmaniasis treatment and assess therapeutic response. We carried out a randomized trial in the coastal municipality of Tumaco in southwestern Colombia, with parallel arms comparing a) follow-up aided by the app to b) standard institution-based follow-up. Treatment was prescribed according to national guidelines. Follow-up of therapeutic response was scheduled at the end of treatment and at 7, 13 and 26 weeks after the start of treatment. The primary endpoint was the proportion of participants who were monitored at or around week 26, allowing outcome and effectiveness of treatment to be determined.

Results: Follow-up of treatment and outcome assessment was achieved in significantly more patients in the intervention arm than the controls, Of the 75 participants in the two randomized arms, 74 had information on whether or not treatment was followed and outcome determined at or around week 26. Among these, 26/49 (53.1%) were evaluated in the intervention arm, and none (0/25, 0%) in the control arm (difference = 53.1%, 95% confidence interval 39.1–67.0%, p<0.001). Of the 26 participants evaluated at or around week 26 in the intervention arm, 22 (84.6%) had cured. There were no serious adverse events, nor events of severe intensity among patients monitored by CHW using the app.

Conclusion: This study provides proof of concept for mHealth to monitor treatment of CL in remote and complex settings, deliver improved care and to provide information to the health system on the effectiveness of treatment as it is delivered to affected populations. Clinical Trial Registration ISRCTN54865992.

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Journal Article
Castillo M
Alexander N
Rubiano L
Rojas C
Navarro A
Rincon D
Bernal LV
Lerma YO
Saravia NG
Aronoff-Spencer E
Jaffe CL