The Department of Health, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Novartis Foundation and other key partners highlight the importance of information and communication technology as a tool to accelerate efforts to eliminate leprosy as we celebrate the World Leprosy Day.
The National Leprosy Control Program (NLCP) of DOH has succeeded in building an integrated digital portfolio for leprosy case finding, case reporting, and capacity building of health providers for leprosy diagnosis and management. The digital portfolio includes the Integrated Leprosy Information System (ILIS), the Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS) and the leprosy eLearning Modules.
“In this generation wherein gadgets become more of a necessity than a simple accessory, we must utilize the available technology in order to help address the major challenge of leprosy control, which is to disseminate information in order to interrupt disease transmission.” Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto-Garin.
Though leprosy has been eliminated as public health burden at the national level, there are still pockets of cases in the country causing the Philippines to remain as the highest in terms of new cases detected in the western pacific region and with high prevalence rate, an indication that transmission is still ongoing and new strategies are needed to eliminate and interrupt the transmission of the disease.
In the Philippines, WHO-NLCP 2012 report listed the following cities with highest recorded new cases of leprosy: Metro Manila with 99 new cases detected and 9% prevalence rate, Nueva Ecija (Lupao) with 60 new cases and 4% prevalence rate and Cebu City with 37 new cases and 27% prevalence rate.
With the Integrated Leprosy Information System (ILIS) a web-based data management system will enable DOH to gather, process and analyze patient data provided electronically by health providers and leprosy coordinators.
While the Leprosy Alert and Response Network System (LEARNS), the country’s first mobile phone-based leprosy referral system, will enable the frontline healthcare providers in referring suspected leprosy patients to specialists through mobile technology to reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment.
On the other hand, the leprosy eLearning Module is focused on stigma assessment, and provides information on interventions to address stigma and discrimination among persons affected by leprosy.
More than 3,000 healthcare providers have already received training for LEARNS, and the system is now being scaled up nationally through the support of the DOH-NLCP, local government units and other developmental partners.
The DOH is also recognizing the contributions of the WHO, Novartis Foundation, Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurses Association of the Philippines, Philippine Dermatological Society, Coalition of Leprosy Advocates in the Philippines, the Culion Foundation, Inc, Philippine Leprosy Mission and Sasakawa Memorial Health Foundation as key partners to the campaign.
“With the help of innovative technology, the DOH will continue to lead the effort to eliminate leprosy in the Philippines. Let us sustain the campaign to increase awareness and reduce stigma and discrimination, together we will make it happen,” Garin concluded.
– DOH Philippines