In the recent Global Report on Psoriasis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for governments and policymakers around the world to work toward improving access to care for patients with psoriasis.
“Too many people in the world suffer needlessly from psoriasis due to incorrect or delayed diagnosis, inadequate treatment options and insufficient access to care,” WHO authors wrote in the report.
Psoriasis, at the most basic level, is a skin disorder, characterized by skin cells that multiply faster than usual, causing raised, red plaques. But the disease is far more than just a rash. As the WHO called attention to in a 2014 resolution, psoriasis can shorten patients’ lifespans and is associated with multiple comorbidities. People with psoriasis are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome and mental health disorders. Those who develop psoriatic arthritis are particularly burdened, facing high levels of disability and unemployment.
“Like many diseases, there is ample need to continue to educate and raise awareness about psoriasis as a chronic, systemic disease,” said Lindsay Bohlander, the associate director of patient advocacy at Celgene.
That need is only growing in importance as psoriasis is becoming more common around the world. From 2004 to 2010, the percentage of the U.S. population with psoriasis nearly doubled, and similar upward trends have been seen in other countries as well.
Implementation of the WHO’s recommendations is imperative for psoriasis patients.
Caring for patients with moderate or severe psoriasis, the WHO report points out, is more complex than treating skin symptoms. Not only do clinicians need to prescribe effective therapies, but they also need to screen for complications and comorbidities, recognize an individual’s triggers for psoriasis flares and avoid any medication interactions when simultaneously treating multiple aspects of the disease.
According to WHO statistics, access to health care—including the care required for psoriasis—is still limited in many countries. And even when basic care can be accessed, primary care physicians may not know enough about psoriasis, and burdensome insurance requirements can delay appropriate care.
Diagnosing and treating psoriasis and its comorbidities as early as possible is key to improving clinical outcomes. One study, for instance, found that when it comes to psoriatic arthritis, delaying diagnosis by a year reduces a patient’s chance of achieving a positive outcome.
To help patients receive early diagnoses and adequate treatment, the WHO report emphasizes a few areas for policymakers to focus on, including universal access to health services and medications, patient-relevant benefits and a people-centered model of care to treat chronic complex conditions like psoriasis.
“Implementation of the WHO’s recommendations is imperative for psoriasis patients,” Bohlander said. “To truly make an impact for psoriasis patients to gain the access to care and treatment they need, it will take all stakeholders to become vested in their health and care.”
For an overview of the key points and issues raised by the WHO report, download our summary.
— PsoriasisAssociation (@PsoriasisUK) March 10, 2016