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More than 50% of Nigeria’s diabetics are ignorant of the disease —Experts



The Chief Medical Director, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, Bauchi State, Dr. Alkali Mohammed, has said that more than half of the  individuals that are diabetic in Nigeria are not aware of the fact that they have the disease.

Mohammed said this at the Annual International Podiatry and Diabetes Foot Care Workshop, organised by the Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Lekki, Lagos in partnership with the Podiatry Institute United States and the World Diabetes Foundation.

The event was themed, ‘Setting the Standard for Diabetes Foot Care in Nigeria’.

The CMD, who urged Nigerians to undergo blood sugar tests regularly, warned that deaths and morbidity recorded as a result of diabetes would continue to rise if those affected were not diagnosed and treated early.

According to him, diabetic foot disease, which occurs when diabetic patients do not manage their conditions early, is the commonest complications of the disease.

He noted that many patients not picked early only found out when they had developed foot problems and their legs or limbs needed to be amputated.

Mohammed said, “Diabetes mellitus-related foot disease is responsible for up to 80 per cent of legs and limb amputations that did not occur as a result of traumatic events like accidents in Nigeria.

“We need an effective policy for early detection and management of patients to prevent these amputations. Diabetes foot disease does not come at the onset of the disease; it comes as a complication of the disease. So if we have a policy where diabetics can go through the appropriate foot care, health education and sugar control, most of the cases we see now will not occur.”

The Project Coordinator, Diabetes Podiatry Initiative, Dr. Afokoghene Isiavwe, identified late presentation as the main reason why diabetics in Nigeria suffer foot disease, which leads to their legs being amputated.

The Consultant Endocrinologist, however, called for the establishment of a framework for the inauguration of a Podiatry Residency Training Board in Nigeria.

“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,” Isiavwe said.

To reduce the burden of the disease in Nigeria, the Chief Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, Dr Adedamola Dada, recommended that patients should be screened regularly for high blood sugar.

Dada also advised Nigerians to adopt healthy feeding habits and lifestyles, saying this could reduce an individual’s risk for the disease, even when he or she had a family history of it. (PUNCH)

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