Experts to conduct diabetics foot screening

HARARE - An International Diabetes Federation (IDF) official and Egyptian experts have jetted into Zimbabwe to set up a foundation for foot screening in a bid to reduce diabetes-induced amputations.

Zimbabwe Diabetic Association (ZDA) president John Mangwiro said they wanted to save lives of millions of people afflicted by diabetes in Zimbabwe.

“Diabetic people lose sensation and develop foot ulcers, eventually they lose legs,” Mangwiro said. “With the country’s diabetic burden, the idea of this testing is to avoid poor management of the foot which leads to conditions that will require leg amputations like what happened to Cephas Mashakada (musician)."

"The two professors from Egypt are here for a two-day intensive training of medical professionals who are in turn going to cascade foot testing to the rural level. This will also reduce the implications of diabetes on economic performance”.

The country’s first foot testing centre will be set up at Harare and Parirenyatwa hospitals.

IDF is sponsoring the project.

Official statistics show that one in every 10 people in Zimbabwe is diabetic. President Robert Mugabe’s health advisor Timothy Stamps concurred with Mangwiro that the diabetic burden was growing.

IDF representative Ronan Cheveder said the organisation recognised the disease burden in Zimbabwe and the need to urgently conscientise people on diabetes and feet management.

“We have 41 projects in 36 countries and we are trying to take the programmes and replicate them across the world,” Cheveder said. “Zimbabwe is ranked fourth in Africa in terms of diabetes. It is difficult to get funding for diabetes notwithstanding that it has many deaths.”

World statistics show that 70 percent of all amputations are caused by diabetes and every 30 seconds, someone will be undergoing an amputation of a lower limb.

Stamps said awareness on foot maintenance in Zimbabwe is still dismal and encouraged the implementers to engage minority groups.

“I know education here about foot care is zero,” Stamps said. “Most doctors I have visited have a plastic at the end of the bed to prevent patients from taking off their shoes. We like to keep our feet in a dungeon all the time. We should stop that.

“And what we are doing now is we are treating rather than preventing. Here because of how HIV is common, we are not sure of how many people die of diabetes maybe because they are misdiagnosed,” he said.

Alexandria Faculty of Medicine professor Samir Assaad-Khalil said a quarter of diabetic people were likely to develop foot ulcers at some point in their lives.

“That is the rationale behind it,” he said.

In Zimbabwe diabetes is largely caused by poor diets and type two is the most common.

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Comments (2)

A brief outline of diabetic foot ulcers including causes and symptoms and how to treat them would be greatly appreciated.

Hlengani Ngwenya - 3 April 2014

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