…Call for national policy on diabetic foot care
By Chioma Obinna, Oluwaseyi Adeshina & Amarachi Adiele
With Diabetes mellitus-related foot disease responsible for up to 80 per cent of limb amputations, experts of diabetic disorders have called for an effective policy that would ensure early detection and management of patients to prevent further complications from disease.
The experts also noted that estimated half of Nigerians living with diabetes are ignorant of the disease.
They argue that persons living with diabetes need to go through the appropriate foot care, inspection, health education and appropriate blood sugar control in order to prevent amputations.
In his views during the 4th Annual International Podiatry and Diabetes Foot Care Workshop, organised by the Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, in partnership with the Podiatry Institute, United States and the World Diabetes Foundation with the theme, “Setting the Standard for Diabetes Foot Care in Nigeria”, President, Diabetic Association of Nigeria, DAN, Dr. Alkali Mohammed said more than half of the individuals that are diabetic in Nigeria are not aware of the fact that they have the disease.
Mohammed who is also Chief Medical Director, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, urged Nigerians to undergo blood sugar tests regularly, warning that deaths and morbidity recorded as a result of diabetes would continue to rise if those affected are not diagnosed and treated early.
According to him, diabetic foot disease, occurs when diabetic patients do not manage their conditions early.
He lamented that many patients are not picked early but when they have developed foot problems and their legs or limbs need to be amputated, that is when they come.
“If there are massive screenings in hospitals diabetic patients will be picked on time and more awareness should be created on health education in order to ensure a healthy life style. The place of foot care in diabetes cannot be under estimated because it is responsible for 80 percent of non traumatic amputation of legs in the country. This is the reason why we need a strong policy.
He further recommended that, people should go through the diabetic screening routine even if they don’t have it, stressing that, “by doing so, we will reduce the number of people living with the disease.”
In her submission, the Project Coordinator, Diabetes Podiatry Initiative, Dr. Afokoghene Isiavwe, who observed that Nigeria lacks podiatrist specialists and podiatrist medicine for diabetes, stressed the urgent need for a Residency Training Board in Nigeria.
She said the residency training board would help train personnel who will specialise in the management of diabetic- related foot application in order to pick up the high risk of foot and manage it properly as well as prevent ulcer. According to her, “About 85 percent of diabetic food applications are presided by ulcer and 75 percent of this food ulcer is preventable with proper foot care.”
Isiavwe who said the annual workshop and monthly trainings has reached thousands of health care workers identified late presentation as the main reason why diabetics in Nigeria suffer foot disease, which leads to their legs being amputated.
The Consultant Endocrinologist, said: Podiatry medicine, a specialty that focuses on foot and ankle disorders, which is very relevant in the care of persons living with diabetes, is currently not available in Nigeria.
“Peculiar in the Nigerian setting is the late presentation of persons with diabetes mellitus foot syndrome as a result of ignorance of both the affected individual and the delay by medical personnel caring for them to refer them to appropriate centres where they can be properly managed. These delays in presentation often lead to amputations as a means of saving the person’s life or even death.”
Declaring the workshop open, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire noted that advised patients to embrace regular for high blood sugar as part of strategies to reduce the burden of the disease.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, Dr Adedamola Dada, the minister further urged Nigerians to adopt healthy feeding habits and lifestyles as the disease could reduce individual’s risk for the disease, even when he or she had a family history of it. Dada who noted that podiatric medicine was vital as it is use to take care of the foot and ankle added that it also takes care of diabetes foot care or foot ulcer.
He also recommended that diabetes foot care should be incorporated into the already existing policy on sickle cell.