Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Research groups discussing on future priority researches

Leprosy Mailing List – October 5th, 2010

Ref.:   Research groups discussing on future priority researches
FromFrancesca C. Gajete, Manila , The Philippines

Dear Prof Ryan,

Thank you for tackling this issue (leprosy mailing list – Sept. 25th, 2010) as these are the same challenges I am experiencing in the Philippines as the national programme manager.  I do agree with you particularly with your issue with the Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) wherein in my country, with WHO NTD/Stop Tuberculosis and Leprosy Programme, leprosy is just an attachment or appendage of a title.

For example, in the recently held meeting of the Disease Reference Group (DRG) for Research on Tuberculosis (TB), Leprosy and Buruli Ulcer, leprosy group was invited to a one day activity in a 3-day meeting wherein TB had the full agenda.  We are just lucky that Dr Diana Lockwood was there, otherwise, no other leprosy expert was around to discuss with us.  I do appreciate though the support I am getting from Dr Steve Lyons as far as multi-drug therapy drug supply is concerned but even if there is a Global NTD meetings, leprosy programme is not equally represented, from our end it is the Filaria programme which is given priority and called upon on these meetings.

As for government, I am assisted by the coordinators from the local government units in advocating to the Local chief executives ownership of the programme especially stressing the fact that sustaining the elimination level, decreasing the disease burden and addressing the stigma and human rights dimension is more challenging and more costly. However, you are right  we need reference materials and more frequent dialogues with policymakers to strengthen this advocacy.

Lastly, local NTD people consider leprosy as a disease of the poorest of the poor.  You and I know that the Mycobacterium leprae cannot and does not recognize economic status, but we are also aware why leprosy is considered so.

Best regards,

Francesca C. Gajete, MD; MHA
National Leprosy Control Program Manager
Department of Health, Manila , Philippines

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