Moderating the tropical lymphoedema session in ISL XXVII in Buenos Aires

09 Oct 2019

New blog written by Charles Mackenzie, GAELF Steering Group Chair, who attended the ISL XXVII in Buenos Aires, Argentina and moderated the tropical lymphoedema session.

Tropical lymphoedema was featured at the International Society for Lymphology’s XXVII World Congress from the 21-24th of September in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Many of the world’s experts on lymphoedema met to discuss the science, patient care and new approaches to both assessment and treatment. In the tropical disease session I spoke about the status of the Global Programme to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) after almost 20 years of implementation and presented the history of the programme and detailed the successes achieved in recent years. These successes elicited much interest in the attendees to the session, and many positive comments were made about the achievements that GPELF has achieved over the past 20 years. The sister tropical lymphoedema disease, podoconiosis, was also represented by a very informative presentation by Dr Kebede Deribe from Brighton & Sussex Medical School, and there were presentations from India discussing surgical approaches to treating lymphoedema and genital lymphoedema.

Although this Congress was heavily biased towards treatment and understanding of lymphoedema as it occurs as a medical condition in developed countries, there were a number of tools or interventions that could be of use to those of us involved with LF-initiated lymphoedema. Technologies for measuring the severity of lymphoedema in an individual patient, for example water content of the limb surface issues, could be useful for assessing improvements in our LF lymphoedema cases. In addition, specific approaches for treating the lower limbs (toes and intra-digital areas - a particular problem in tropical edema) in LF lymphoedema might also be used successfully and easily in tropical settings.

Those of us from the tropical disease arena who attended this World Congress in Buenos Aires felt that it was indeed useful to present our particular perspective and tell the stories of our LF patients to this global audience, an audience who generally are focused on post-cancer lymphoedema cases treatment, genetic forms of lymphoedema, and other forms less common than LF-derived cases. Understandably, there are many techniques and approaches that are used in the West that are not suitable for use in rural settings in developing countries, nevertheless it was clear from the meeting that there is value from bringing and presenting our world to the Western world of lymphoedema.

Charles Mackenzie
October 2019