If you are in the Western world, you might have heard about leprosy. The incidence of Leprosy, or Hansen’s disease, is so low in the USA and Europe, that it has fallen out of the public notice. However, more than 200,000 people suffer from this disease, mostly in South East Asia.
It is a bacterial disease caused by an organism similar to the one causes Tuberculosis. The patient can contract the disease and can go for years without displaying any outward signs. In the advanced stages, the disease is not contagious. However, it deforms the body of a person – fingers, toes, nose, and these may just fall off. An early diagnosis and a prompt treatment can prevent all this. However, diagnosing Leprosy is challenging, especially in a country like the Philippines.
Leprosy in the Philippines
The Philippines is a beautiful country made of 7641 islands, out of which, some 2000 are inhabited by about 103 Million people. The pristine beaches, scrumptious cuisine, and warm people make it an attractive place for tourists. However, the geographic makeup of the country poses operational challenges for the delivery of healthcare.
As it has so many islands, it is difficult for a healthcare visitor to conduct screening procedures. And if it is Leprosy, the patients may not even see a doctor until it is too late. The social stigma of the disease keeps them away from the civilisation, and the patients often are neglected by the family as well.
As the bigger hospitals and diagnostic centres are located far away, even the support staff in smaller clinics have a difficulty in getting things diagnosed. And even though there were just about 2000 odd cases of leprosy diagnosed in 2010, not everyone received an early treatment. There might be a fair share of undiagnosed cases due to various factors, including remoteness of diagnostic facilities, lack of training in diagnostic skills, and pure social stigma.
Learns: The Technological solution to the healthcare hurdle
However, we are in 2018 now! And technology is helping us overcome such hurdles. It did the same in the Philippines, as according to a report by the Guardian, Novartis Foundation teamed up with the department of health and developed a mobile-based diagnostic tool – Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (Learns).
It enables a healthcare worker, say a nurse, to click a photo of the lesion, and send it to a specialist. The specialist may be 100s of miles away, but he can diagnose it right away and chart a treatment pathway. This results in early diagnosis and prompt treatment, avoiding disfiguration.
The quality of life of such a patient will improve drastically, preventing a life of hardship and misery.
Aimedis for patients
At Aimedis, this is the core of our philosophy – an access to healthcare, wherever you are. We have tailored plans for patients – they can opt for the subscription-free plan and avail a pay-as-you-consult model, that, for a nominal fee, lets you interact with a specialist without the wait. There is a premium subscription where a patient can access a doctor round the clock, and also get a second opinion. He can also request for a prescription using the Aimedis medical team.
We hope that someday, technology and AI will help the standards of healthcare to become uniform all over the world.