RITM Live tackles Leprosy and other skin concerns

Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) through its Communication and Engagement Office (CEO) aired the second episode of RITM Live: Ask the Expert series with Dermatology chief, Dr. Ma. Teresita G. Gabriel on February 28, 2022 via Facebook Live in the official RITM Facebook page.

In line with Leprosy Control Week, the episode focused on the disease and its treatment.

Leprosy is a treatable condition but the patients living with this chronic skin condition suffer through discrimination and stigma that keep them from seeking proper medical assistance. In her discussion, Dr. Gabriel stressed that the complications and permanent disabilities from Leprosy can be prevented with early diagnosis and treatment.

“Yung iba kasi (na pasyente), sometimes they refuse to see the specialists because of the stigma. Kami (RITM Dermatology Department), we embrace our patients with Leprosy because before you get Leprosy, it’s like years of close contact before you get that. There are hundreds of patients with Leprosy whom we see at RITM, wala naman kaming Leprosy, ‘di ba? Low infectivity siya kaya hindi ka dapat matakot,” said Dr. Gabriel.

(Sometimes, there are some (patients) who refuse to see the specialists because of the stigma…We (RITM Dermatology Department), embrace our patients with Leprosy because before you get Leprosy…it’s like years of close contact before you get that. There are hundreds of patients with Leprosy whom we see at RITM, and yet we don’t have Leprosy. It has low infectivity so it should not to be feared of.)

She also called on her fellow medical doctors to not stigmatize their patients living with Leprosy or other skin conditions.

“Huwag niyo ipakita sa pasyente niyo na natatakot ka kasi nando’n kayo para gamutin (sila), hindi para dumamay doon sa mga nangstistigma. Ang pinakaimportanteng message (ay) “no to stigma for patients with Leprosy” para hindi sila matakot magpunta sa mga health center, magpunta sa mga government hospital, at mabigyan ng karapatan na magamot nang maaga,” said Dr. Gabriel.

(For those doctors who do not have sufficient knowledge on Leprosy, don’t make your patients feel that you are scared of them because…you are there to treat them, not to join those who stigmatize them…the most important message is “no to stigma for patients with Leprosy” so that they will not be discouraged to go to health centers, government hospitals, to have the right to be treated early.)

The episode also touched on other skin diseases and conditions such as Psoriasis, Scabies, and acne. Dr. Gabriel concluded with encouragement for the viewers to consult with dermatological experts for skin concerns.

The episode was in partnership with the Culion Foundation Inc. and Sorok Uni Foundation – both non-government organizations (NGOs) providing support to patients with Leprosy.

RITM Live: Ask the Expert series is an event aiming to make scientific information on tropical diseases more accessible to the public through direct interactions with RITM experts via Facebook Live broadcast.

Watch the episode replay here: RITM Live Episode 2


by Anel Dimaano, Communication and Engagement Office