Background

The prevalence of skin diseases in Mali is very high, with a rate nearing 30%. The main ones are infectious dermatoses, such as impetigo, eczema and scabies. They are minor ailments, but with sometimes disastrous consequences. Impetigo, for example, can cause heart valve disease or kidney failure in children. Unfortunately, with less than one dermatologist per million inhabitants, the country is facing a shortage of specialists and a low skills level in staff working in peripheral health facilities.

Nevertheless, those working at these centres do not hesitate to seek advice from specialists by mobile phone, a technology that is expanding exponentially on the continent. Based on this observation, Professor Ousmane Faye, head of the dermatology department at the Centre National d'Appui à la lutte contre la Maladie (CNAM), decided to assess telemedicine’s feasibility and impact on management of skin diseases. Because, as dermatology essentially involves visual observation, ICT can be put to particularly effective use in diagnosis and monitoring. The Pierre Fabre Foundation has supported this project since early 2015.

For a period of 18 months, the study will cover the Koulikoro, Sikasso and Mopti regions. To conduct the study, nine pilot healthcare centres will be equipped with the digital tools and ICT required, and 18 staff members will be trained in common dermatoses and in the use of IC technologies. This study should be able to assess 150 benchmark cases out of the 3,000 ailments expected during the period. In addition to improving treatment, the project is also improving medical staff skills and proficiency and creating a very helpful exchange network. Moreover, operations began immediately upon approval from the ethics committee in April 2015 with visits of pilot care centres, assessment of the dermatological conditions in the areas concerned, identification of personnel to be involved, training and more.

Université de Bamako, Faculté de Médecine
BP 1805
Bamako - MALI

Our project is based on both quality of care and training capacity. For the quality of care, we can count on the specialists from the CNAM, which is home to the country’s largest dermatological reference center. For the training capacity, the Faculty of Medicine and Odontostomatology is highly relevant: it trains the most senior healthcare managers in Mali. Furthermore, it already has a telemedicine platform in place. This proven tool will make possible the exchange of information between the dermatologists and health workers in the nine pilot centres.”

Pr. Ousmane Faye Dermatologist, teaching staff member and vice dean of the Bamako Faculty of medicine, head of the dermatology department at CNAM

Future initiatives

Ultimately, based on positive results, the teledermatology project is expected to stretch to other regions in Mali and lead to the creation of a national network. Then, to further its implementation, the sub-region could duplicate at its own pace an already tested and proven initiative.

Partners

  • Centre National d’Appui à la lutte contre la Maladie (CNAM, former Institut Marchoux), Secrétariat Général du Ministère de la Santé
  • Faculté de Médecine, de Pharmacie et d’Odonto-Stomatologie (FMPOS) de Bamako