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Jamaican, Nigerian scientists tackle diabetes foot complications, amputations

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[FILES] Experts have expressed concern over the rising scourge of diabetes foot complications, resulting in an increase in amputation in Nigeria.

Medical experts in Jamaica and Nigeria have expressed concern over the rising scourge of diabetes foot complications, resulting in an increase in amputation in Nigeria.

This, they said, requires having strong diabetes foot care protocol at the primary care level to address the situation in order to save more lives and limbs from amputation.

They gave the submission at the sixth yearly International five-day Workshop in Podiatry and Diabetes Foot Care workshop, organised by Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre in collaboration with World Walk Foundation, Jamaica Chapter, held in Lagos, with the theme: “Building the Diabetes Foot First Responders”.

Speaking at the workshop, the Managing Director, Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Dr. Afokoghene Isiavwe, said diabetes is a global emergency with associated complications, which requires training first responders and community health extension workers to improve management and prevention of the disease complications, as well as raise awareness on proper foot care in persons living with diabetes mellitus.

Isiavwe, who is also the course coordinator explained that the diabetes foot first responders are persons with specialised training, who are among the first to arrive and provide assistance at the scene of an emergency, which when present in Nigeria would stand in the gap to reduce diabetes amputation until a formal university training begins.

“What we have now is that the firsts responders – the community health extension workers, and pharmacists, who are the people the diabetes patients meet on a day-to-day basis don’t know much about diabetes, which causes trial and error and by the time these patients get to centres that know how to treat diabetes properly, it is usually too late and all that can be done is to cut the limb to save their lives,” she stressed.

She, however, added that it is important to ensure primary healthcare workers are trained to be able to recognise the high-risk diabetes foot and know-how to promptly triage them to reduce delays in getting appropriate foot care services.

Also speaking, the President, World Walk Foundation, Jamaica Chapter, Owen Bernard, said for every five seconds, a lower limb is lost to amputation as a result of a complication from diabetes, which he noted is due to lack of education about the disease and the inability to identify its symptoms.

Bernard lamented that there are not enough health personnel on diabetes treatment and care in many countries across the world, noting that it is important to train as many personnel as to possible in the health centres present in Nigeria, so as to salvage some of the disease problems at the primary care level. He said the major aim is to help reduce the rate of diabetes and prevent amputation because there are so many burdens it places on individuals, noting that Nigeria needs to spend more time and money to prevent loss of the limb/leg.

In her remark, Professor of Endocrinology and Diabetology, Department of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Felicia Anumah, stressed that diabetes has become a huge problem in Nigeria presently, with increasing complications, which are most times dangerous and could result in death of the affected individual, if not addressed on time.

According to Anumah who is also the Dean, Faculty of the Clinical Science University of Abuja, the prevalence of diabetes foot right now varies from between 0.3 per cent and 19 per cent, depending on the type, with amputation rate as high as over 50 per cent.

She noted that the problem most time with the diabetes foot patient is that, by the time he/she gets to the health centre where the right and proper care can be given, it is usually late, as about 50 per cent of the only option to save that person’s life is amputation.

“The plight of the common Nigerian is death due to lack of early detection, no funds, ignorance of refusal for immediate treatment of worst stage diabetes, which leads to amputation,” she maintained.

Anumah stressed that the reason for the above situation is that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is still at the nursery stage, with coverage of less than five percent of the Nigerian population, which has encouraged an out-of-pocket system as far as health is concerned in Nigeria.

The professor further stressed that the cost of assessing diabetes treatment is very expensive, with complications like kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and even amputation, which costs not less than N100, 000 a week for dialysis, and about N360, 000 to N540, 000 for diabetes treatment and much more for amputation respectively, noting that how many Nigerians can sustain that?

She, however, called on the country’s leaders to fund care and treatment of diabetes to prevent rising amputation and most times death of individuals living with the disease.


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