Improving fungal disease identification and management: combined health systems and public health approaches are needed

Donald C Cole, Nelesh P. Govender , Arunaloke Chakrabarti, Jahit Sacarlal , David Denning

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More than 1·6 million people are estimated to die of fungal diseases each year, and about a billion people have cutaneous fungal infections. Fungal disease diagnosis requires a high level of clinical suspicion and specialised laboratory testing, in addition to culture, histopathology, and imaging expertise. Physicians with varied specialist training might see patients with fungal disease, yet it might remain unrecognised. Antifungal treatment is more complex than treatment for bacterial or most viral infections, and drug interactions are particularly problematic. Health systems linking diagnostic facilities with therapeutic expertise are typically fragmented, with major elements missing in thousands of secondary care and hospital settings globally. In this paper, the last in a Series of eight papers, we describe these limitations and share responses involving a combined health systems and public health framework illustrated through country examples from Mozambique, Kenya, India, and South Africa. We suggest a mainstreaming approach including greater integration of fungal diseases into existing HIV infection, tuberculosis infection, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and blindness health programmes; provision of enhanced laboratory capacity to detect fungal diseases with associated surveillance systems; procurement and distribution of low-cost, high-quality antifungal medicines; and concomitant integration of fungal disease into training of the health workforce.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Lancet Infectious Diseases
Early online date31 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2017


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