Experts from the World Diabetes Foundation, Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Podiatry Institute, USA, and Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Lagos, have called for a national policy against diabetic foot disease in the country.
They said diabetes foot disease was a leading cause of deaths among diabetics in Nigeria, hence the need to tackle it head on if the country must reduce the current mortality rate being experienced.
Speaking at the third annual capacity building workshop on Diabetes Foot Care in Lagos recently, the President of the Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Dr. Mohammed Alikali, said bills on addressing the rising incidence of the health issue in the country must be facilitated, adding that it does not have to be an executive bill alone. “Associations, health bodies or individuals can champion this bill, so that treatment as well as prevention of the disease can be timely,” he added.
He said the current policy on health insurance only covers for 14 days treatment, whereas the treatment for diabetes requires at least three months. “What this means is that technically, diabetes treatment has been schemed out. These are some of the reasons we need specific policies to tackle issues like this,” adding that, among other things, the federal government has to look at policies on diabetes beyond the hospital, “health workers, families and patients should be continuously educated on the need for new ways of preventing and treating the disease.”
According to him, currently, over five million persons were living with diabetes in the country, adding that in 2015 alone, about 1.6 million diabetics were discovered. “What this means is that there are still several undiagnosed diabetes, and this is a major problem because when it’s undiagnosed, the possibility of taking care of it will not be there.
“Before diabetes becomes a problem, it must have developed over a period, which means when it’s not diagnosed on time, the likelihood that it will lead to several other complications is very high,” adding that the real issue with the disease was the consequent complications.
Alikali, who is also the Chief Medical Director, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, Bauchi, called on Nigerians to tailor their lifestyle towards healthy living, as this would go a long way in preventing cases of diabetes. “We should go back to natural food, reduce intake of sugar, encourage exercise even among our primary and secondary schools,” he said.
On her part, the Medical Director, Rainbow Specialist Medical Centre, Dr. Afoke Isiavwe, said when health workers have the skills to prevent and identify foot diabetes, it would go a long way in reducing diabetes-related foot amputations in the country.
Isiavwe said diabetes mellitus was now on the increase worldwide and diabetic foot complication was a leading cause of admission, amputation and mortality in diabetic patients worldwide.
She said, “For diabetes mellitus foot syndrome, prevention is better than cure. Sadly many persons affected report for treatment too late when not much can be done to help them, except amputation, to save their lives.
She called for the establishment of Podiatry, a branch of medicine in Nigerian medical schools.