The Australasian College of Dermatologists Humanitarian Activities

10 February 2018

A summary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists recent humanitarian activities in Asia.

A group of women sitting on the floor
North India women's group

Uttarakand, North India

In 2010 Dr Claire Grills and her team established a Dermatology Treatment, Training and Research programme in North India.  This was based on an initial survey of 1,200 individuals looking at the prevalence of various skin conditions in order to plan resources and training. Supported by colleagues in Victoria, Australia; fundraising was undertaken to meet ongoing costs. The project has played a significant role in responding to the local dermatology needs of the impoverished and remote part of northern India which previously had no dermatology service.

The activities undertaken of the treatment, training and research programme include:

  • Various professional visits from Australian-based staff to undertake training and offer clinical care to local needy populations including a recent team who received the ‘SkinCare for Developing Countries’ grant from the American Academy of Dermatology for their focus on pigmentary disorders
  • Regular dermatological clinics have continued- weekly in one centre and monthly in the other centre with the support of the fund
  • Training and teaching sessions have been held on steroid use, general dermatology conditions, paediatric dermatology
  • Basic research has been undertaken on both steroids use (2016) and skin whiteners (2014)
  • Informal but regular teledermatology consults with numerous patients- linked to Landour Christian Hospital, Chamba Hospital and Sampan Community Health program
  • Dermatological equipment for the clinics and outreach programs- medications, diathermy, lamp and certain consumables.


Kupang, Nusa Tenggara, West Timor

As part of the Flinders Overseas Health Group (FOHG), Associate Professor Gillian Marshman has regularly visited West Timor and Indonesia for over a decade. The roles and underlying philosophy of FOHG are sustainable health through education; and as such she is involved in upskilling doctors and allied health personnel in dermatologic disease, both within Professor Johannes Hospital in Kupang, but also in remote and regional areas.

FOHG has also been involved in supporting the development of a histopathology laboratory in the hospital, which previously was under resourced in this regard; and has set up networking with other specialties. There has also been an ongoing oncology program which has benefited the province and beyond; and is in continuing development. FOHG has multiple other speciality interests including paediatrics, neonatal, maternal and infectious diseases, as well as supporting laboratory based medicine, transfusion medicine and emergency medicine. Multiple teams go up during the year, and there is reciprocal arrangement where supported specialists are provided help to attend meetings or educational upskilling programs in Australia.


Sri Lanka

Associate Professor Prasad Kumarasinghe liaises with the Sri Lanka College of Dermatologists to find training placements for Sri Lankan postgraduate dermatology trainees in Australia, for advanced training. Australian dermatologists have also participated in postgraduate dermatology examinations in Sri Lanka as invited external examiners.

A/Prof Kumarasinghe also assisted the Sri Lankan College of Dermatologists in organising the highly successful International Tropical Dermatology Conference held in Sri Lanka in 2016. He is currently coordinating the 9th Conference of the Asian Society for Pigment Cell Research to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in 2018. Australian dermatologists participate in these meetings as speakers and delegates.

A/Prof Kumarasinghe contributed substantially to purchase high precision skin physiology equipment for dermatology research in Sri Lanka. He was also instrumental in organising a donation through the Australasian College of Dermatologists, for resumption of teledermatology services in Nepal, after the devastating 2015 earthquake in Kathmandu 2015.


Dili, East Timor

Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon AM first visited East Timor as a tourist in 2011. Mindful that there had not been much contact between Australian dermatology and East Timor, she travelled there in 2015 with then registrar, Dr Niyati Sharma. They visited the Baro Pite Clinic where they conducted several dermatology clinics, educated staff, visited a remote area with a local clinician where there was a scabies outbreak, conducted a dermatology clinic at an orphanage in Venalaile and visited the Dermatology Clinic at the National Hospital. This visit laid the groundwork for a visit in 2016 by Dr Julia Rhodes and then registrar, Dr Rebecca Saunderson. However difficulties arose in accessing the quantities of drugs required to implement effective scabies treatment.

A/Prof Nixon has raised funds for East Timor through the Victorian Skin and Cancer Foundation’s platform, donating to the Baro Pite Clinic and also enabled the local dermatologists to attend a tropical medicine conference in Sri Lanka in 2016.


For more information about the Australasian College of Dermatologists please visit their website.