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Teledermatology in the Control of Skin Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Systematic Review.


Introduction: Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) include a group of about 20 illnesses that have garnered relatively little attention, despite their ability to inflict significant suffering and disability. Skin neglected tropical diseases (sNTDs) are a subset of NTDs that present with cutaneous manifestations and are well known for their ability to generate stigma and promote poverty. Teledermatology (TD) represents a potential method to control sNTDs.

Objective: We sought to analyze the potential for TD to ease the burden of sNTDs.

Methods: We performed a systematic literature search using the Texas Medical Center Library One Search, which scans 167 databases, including Embase, PubMed, and Scopus. We included all original investigations published after 2011 that assessed the impact of TD intervention in the control of one or more sNTDs. We excluded studies not written in English and studies that did not perform any outcome analyses.

Results: Twenty studies met our search criteria, and 18 expressed positive attitudes towards TD. Overall, we found that TD may be a sustainable, cost-effective strategy for expanding access to care for individuals afflicted with sNTDs. However, poor image quality, lack of access to further diagnostic tests, and ethical, legal, and cultural issues pose as barriers to TD utilization.

Conclusion: TD may be helpful in achieving control of sNTDs but has its limitations. An integrated approach, which employs TD in conjunction with other strategies, represents a realistic path for alleviating sNTDs.

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Journal Article
Joshi T
Ren V