Towards stemming the increasing incidence of diabetes in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Health is strengthening the primary healthcare system to include diabetes management with foot care – assessment and referral – into the existing health care service at the primary healthcare level.
At the 6th Annual International Diabetes, Podiatry & Diabetes Foot Care workshop organised by Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Lagos, the National Desk Officer, Diabetes, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Alayo Sopekan who decried the burden of diabetes foot disease said its economic burden was quite significant. “In Nigeria, a large majority of people living with the disease have little or no knowledge of diabetes and its complications. It is estimated that the rate of foot ulcer among people living with diabetes is between 8.3 percent and 19 percent in the different zones of the country.
“The rate of amputation was also estimated to be as high as 53.2 percent in people with foot ulcer in some centres, thereby making diabetes foot the most common cause of non-traumatic amputation in the lower extremities in Nigeria.” Sopekan, represented by an official of the ministry’s Diabetes Desk, Dr. Olanike Kehinde Akinkoye, however assured of Government’s commitment in providing leadership for prevention and control of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases through the Federal Ministry of Health “by strategically eliminating the risk factors, improving the management of these diseases as well as preventing their complications. “
Already the apex ministry had prepared the National Guideline for the Prevention, Control and Management of Diabetes and currently carrying out a Diabetes Awareness and Care Project in the FCT and Imo State through support of the World Diabetes Foundation, WDF. “These supports include capacity building at the Primary Care level within the selected sites and medical outreaches. It is envisaged that the project would be scaled up. “More so, the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with non-health Ministries, Department and Agencies developed the 7-year National Multisectoral Action Plan (NMSAP) for the prevention and control of NCDs to serve as a strategic guide for the national response to NCDs in Nigeria,” Akinkoye said.
The Coordinator and Managing Director, Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Dr. Afokoghene Rita Isiavwe said the Medical Centre has, in the builtbeen building local capacity to improve management and prevention of diabetes foot complications and raise awareness on proper foot care in persons living with diabetes mellitus; through much needed trainings via regular interactive workshop sessions. The Nigeria Podiatry initiative, she said, had produced a documentary on diabetes foot while over 1000 local health care workers had been trained.
Also, a certification programme on diabetes foot care at Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre had been successfully institutionalised. “The theme for this year’s workshop – Building the Diabetes Foot First Responders, is very relevant and important, as having a strong diabetes foot care protocol at the primary care level will save more diabetes limbs and lives by ensuring Primary health care workers are able to recognise the high risk diabetes foot and know how to promptly triage them, to reduce delays in getting appropriate foot care services,” Isiavwe said.
In his remarks, the Director, World Walk Foundation Jamaica Chapter, Dr. Owen Bernard declared that foot care was not minor, but often an expensive venture that requires team effort which should be multidisciplinary in approach. Unfortunately, there’s a dearth of podiatrists, the specialists who manage foot problems, worldwide. “It makes sense to train as many people as possible so that we can deal with the problem of foot care, especially at the PHC level. We need to spend moiré time and money to prevent foot amputation,” he stressed.
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