The PASSION project
Dr. Christophe Hsu
Founder, Global Dermatology
WCD 2023 AMBASSADOR FROM SWITZERLAND, EUROP
The number of dermatologists worldwide is already quite low, one in 60000 globally on average. In rural India, the number falls to one in a million. However in Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of specialists is close to nil, with for example 13 dermatologists in the whole of Madagascar (population 26 million).
Combine it with a large population group of children and adolescents, which already represents the majority of the population, and what you get a is recipe for a health crisis. Indeed while there are healthcare providers, let alone medical officers and general practitioners, their attention is aimed at dealing with more pressing problems such as infectious diseases and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It is part of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) sustainable development goals (SDG), to find a solution (see below for exact goals).
When you take into account these two parameters, it is easy to forgive that the inability to train dermatologists and enough medical officers will bring dermatological expertise to a halt…or will it not ?
Luckily the number of skin diseases in the pediatric population group which amounts to 80% of all of them comes down to five: eczema, impetigo, tinea, scabies and insect bites. And these conditions are treatable on the ground; even scabies medication ivermectin is now on the World Health Organization (WHO) Essential Drug list.
Even if these diseases were not priority health concerns, they are a social time bomb, with consequences on the whole population. Inability to go to school, overburdened carers and reduced opportunities (marriage, work) are the consequences of becoming a Social Leper.
The data explosion has kicked in, more data has been produced in the last 2 years than in the history of humanity. This enables to use Artificial Intelligence Intelligence (AI; Augmented Intelligence is a better term), more precisely a part of it called Machine Learning (ML). Mathematical equations, called algorithms are the resulting solutions and are coded as a computer program.
Since the pandemic began, it becomes imaginable that solutions using Digital Health will remain with us. Teledermatology has been around for quite a while, and in the United States almost 70% of in person visits were replaced with telemedicine in skin diseases. Moving forward Teledermatology, as well as AI and Data science, will become common vocabulary in medicine. To read more on digital health in Dermatology, please visit www.telemedskin.com
This is the beginning of a long journey; the PASSION project is funded by Fondation Botnar. Even if AI is applied to Dermatology there will be a lot of emotion in its development. Expect support and resistance (minor, moderate, strong and key) as well as pivot points which will be reached when concrete hurdles arise…but we know where the trend is heading !
Follow us for updates on this project at www.telederm.ai
Sustainable Development Goals of WHO covered by the project
SDG 3: Good Health and Well being: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/
-3.3 end the epidemics of other communicable diseases….Communicable diseases concerns two of our disease foci (infected eczema, impetigo and scabies)
-3.8 Achieve universal health coverage…access to quality essential health- care services…Specifically to the field of Dermatology, we intend to use AI for five skin diseases to begin with.
SDG 10: Reduce inequalities https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/inequality