The First International Conference on Tropical Dermatology (ICTD)

11th to 14th August 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka

 

Tropical Dermatoses encompass a wide array of dermatological problems that are unique, more widespread, prove more difficult to treat and control, in tropical and subtropical regions. However, the term Tropical Dermatoses cannot be sharply defined. For example centuries ago leprosy was much prevalent in temperate countries though now it is considered as one of the major tropical dermatoses.

Not only the unique environmental and biological aspects, but the economic, social and cultural aspects also are different in the tropics. Despite their varied economic, political, and social histories, except few, most of the tropical countries remain as developing nations with lower economic growth rates due to many complex reasons. As a result, overcrowding and poor hygienic living conditions are major concerns regarding the tropical diseases. As 40% of world populations live in the tropics, the burden on health systems due to these diseases is enormous.

Infections take up a major portion of tropical dermatoses. Anyway, there are many other conditions which are tropical dermatoses in the true sense. For example, many pigmentary disorders, unique cultural practices in some groups of people leading to various dermatoses, and the environmental influence on skin, like the sun, sea, plants and insects. Most of these conditions are not subjected to sufficient investigations and research. Another important feature is that there is a great variation in the pattern of diseases and their prevalence, within the tropics among different countries or nations. Furthermore, though tropical dermatoses are commonly seen in tropics, they are not limited to this region. Specially, with expanding travelling and migration, a dermatologist practising outside the tropics is sure to encounter these patients in their practice.

With the aim of creating a forum for exchange of ideas and spread of knowledge on tropical dermatology among the dermatology fraternity and to create avenues towards improvement in patient care, Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists (SLCD) took the initiative in organizing an international conference on tropical dermatology. This idea blossomed in the minds of several of our past presidents. Dr. Prasad Kumarasinghe, a Sri Lankan Dermatologist domiciled in Australia now, is the one who nurtured it most. It surfaced during the academic meetings way back in 2009.

The planning of the International Conference on Tropical Dermatology took wings after the 8th SARCD held in Colombo in 2013. In April 2014, a steering committee was appointed. Planning the conference at high magnitude with available limited resources was an uphill task for the SLCD. Organizers wanted the best experts in the world on relevant areas to contribute to the conference. Prof. Prasad Kumarasinghe and Prof. Jayamini Seneviratne were instrumental in getting us in touch with the experts, especially through their friends in the International Society of Dermatology and in many other countries. The effort was successful.

The name “International Conference on Tropical Dermatology 2016, Colombo Sri Lanka” was adapted under the theme “Topics from Tropics”. A website was created as www.ictd2016.org. A venue with tropical sea breeze, Hotel Kingsbury Colombo was selected. A programme was arranged which consisted of plenary lectures, symposia on major topics, recent advances, guest lectures, free papers, and posters covering most of the areas under tropical dermatology aiming to create a forum to exchange ideas and spread of knowledge on tropical dermatology among the dermatology fraternity and to create avenues towards improvement in patient care. On the first day, pre-congress session in the morning was followed by the grand inauguration ceremony in the evening. The president of the International society of Dermatology, Dr. Evangaline Handog graced the occasion as the chief guest. Full two days of scientific conference followed afterwards. A stimulating and unique opportunity was arranged at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka for the delegates to meet and examine the patients with tropical dermatoses, on the fourth day of the meeting.

We tried our best to send the message across, about ICTD, to all the countries in the world. As this is the first time we organized a conference of this nature, it was a difficult task. However, it was an immense pleasure to see delegates from over 24 countries worldwide, attending the conference. They enjoyed the scenic beauty of our island as well, during the stay.

The total number of delegates was 230 and there were forty-six renowned clinicians and scientists in the relevant fields from twelve countries sharing their knowledge and expertise as resource persons. They were from Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Germany, India, Iran, The Philippines, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom and Sri Lanka. The Guest Lectures by world leaders on tropical dermatology were of high scientific and practical value. All the major tropical dermatology topics, emerging and re-emerging infections, pigmentary disorders as well as sociocultural dermatoses were discussed. Leishmaniasis and leprosy were two areas which were covered in greater detail. The clinical meeting with patients having numerous typical and atypical tropical dermatoses was also outstanding.

The organizing committee took their best effort to make the International Conference on Tropical Dermatology 2016 Colombo, Sri Lanka a memorable experience. The excellent Sri Lankan and fusion food served at the hotel was gastronomically delightful.Many delegates managed to find some time to explore Colombo as well as other parts of beautiful Sri Lanka. We have no doubt that those who could not explore the country more, will return to this beautiful island in not too distant future.

Many old friendships between international delegates were renewed and many new friendships were established. Already several participants have started planning work on new collaborative scientific research. The organizing committee of ICTD 2016 humbly acknowledges congratulatory messages and appreciative comments received regarding the conference, not only from the resource persons and delegates but also from dermatological societies world over.

ICTD2106 will be a landmark event in Sri Lankan Dermatology. Hopefully it will set the precedence for many more advanced International Conferences on Tropical Dermatology to follow.Considering the great success we had with the ICTD2016 Colombo, SLCD took steps to have the next Tropical Dermatology Conference in 2020.

I hope these endeavours will harness the collective spirit and enthusiasm on Tropical Dermatology, opening pathways for better care of our patients.

Dr. Janaka Akarawita
(Past President SLCD and Chairperson Organizing Committee ICTD 2016)