The scarcity of health workers with sufficient knowledge on skin diseases in low-income countries as well as the high burden of skin diseases urged the Netherlands Leprosy Relief (NLR) to come up with a strategy to mainstream both leprosy and other so-called neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness of case finding.
In 2015 Erik Post, a technical consultant from the NLR and the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, developed a smartphone application to support peripheral health workers in diagnosing and treating skin diseases. The development of the NLR SkinApp was based on experiences with a pilot project in Nigeria, during which a paper-based adapted version of Mahé’s algorithm for diagnosis and treatment of skin diseases was used.
The first version of the SkinApp was piloted in Zambezia province in Mozambique in 2015. The upgraded version can now be downloaded from Google Play Store as well as from the App Store. A second pilot is currently taking place in Mozambique.
Peripheral health workers with no or limited training in dermatology that use the SkinApp become capable in recognizing early signs and symptoms of common skin diseases, NTDs and HIV related skin diseases. Therefore the SkinApp does not only play a role in mainstreaming detection of NTDs, but also contributes to health system strengthening. Furthermore, early recognition and prompt treatment of skin diseases will prevent worsening of the disease and development of disabilities.
We have the ambition to make the SkinApp available in African, Asian and South-American countries, starting with Mozambique, India, Indonesia and Brazil. One of the main pathways for governmental uptake is to receive WHO endorsement of the SkinApp by achieving proof of concept in different contexts.
Through the Spindle SummerLab, we are striving to develop a business model for an effective, efficient and time-saving global roll-out.