Chronic Care for Neglected Infectious Diseases: Leprosy/Hansen’s Disease, Lymphatic Filariasis, Trachoma, and Chagas Disease. A Guide for Morbidity Management and Disability Prevention for Primary Health Care Services
In 2016, PAHO's Directing Council, through Resolution CD55.R9, approved the “Plan of Action for Elimination of Neglected Infectious Diseases (NID) and Post-Elimination Actions, 2016-2022.” This Resolution urges Member States to implement a set of interventions to reduce the burden of disease by NID in the Americas by 2022, including “…support promotion of treatment, rehabilitation, and related support services through an approach focused on integrated morbidity management and disability prevention for individuals and families afflicted by those neglected infectious diseases that cause disability and generate stigma.” NIDs can have devastating chronic sequelae for patients, such as disability, visible change or loss in body structure, loss of tissue, and impairment of proper tissue and organ function, among others. All of these can in turn lead to unjustified discrimination, stigmatization, mental health problems, and partial or total incapacity to work, perpetuating the vicious cycle of neglected diseases as both a consequence and a cause of poverty. Patients with chronic conditions caused by NIDs require proper health care in order to prevent further damage and improve their living and social conditions. This should be provided at the primary health care level, as patients suffering from NIDs are often unable to travel to or afford to pay for specialized care services. Care for patients suffering from chronic morbidity caused by NID should be integrated into care for other chronic conditions caused by non-communicable diseases. This manual provides a framework for morbidity management and disability prevention of patients affected by NIDs and gives specific guidance for the proper care of patients suffering from chronic conditions caused by lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, trachoma, and Chagas disease. It is intended to be used mainly by health care workers at the primary health care level, but health workers at more complex and specialized levels may also find it useful.