KARACHI: The amputation of lower limbs due to diabetes is the leading cause of disability in Pakistan. According to an estimate, three to four hundred thousand people are annually losing their feet and legs because of ‘diabetic foot ulcers’ in Pakistan, which is a serious but preventable cause of lower limb amputations, said experts.
“In 2005, one person was losing his or her lower limbs due to diabetic foot ulcers after every 30 seconds somewhere in the world, but at the moment, this rate has increased and now after every 20 seconds, one amputation is being carried out somewhere in the world.
Almost the same is the situation in Pakistan, and as per our estimates, three to four hundred thousand people annually lose their lower limbs due to diabetic foot ulcers in Pakistan”, said Prof Abdul Basit, Chairman of International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, while speaking at two-day Nadep Diabetes Footcon 2019.
Dozens of national and eminent international health experts working in the field of diabetes and its complications including diabetic foot ulcers including Prof Dr Roberto Anichini from Italy, Dr Zulfiqar G. Abbass from Tanzania, Dr Salma E Khuraibet from Kuwait as well as several others from the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and other countries of the Middle East and Africa, attended the Nadep Diabetes Footcon 2019, with a focus to create awareness about diabetic foot ulcers and its prevention to reduce amputations in Pakistan.
Prof Abdul Basit, who is also the Director of the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi, maintained that at least ‘3000 diabetic foot clinics’ are required throughout Pakistan to reduce amputations due to diabetic foot ulcers and to prevent the country from “becoming a disabled nation.”
“In Sindh, we have spoken to the provincial health department and have offered them to train their doctors so that they could provide training to healthcare providers and experts operating in rural areas where diabetes prevalence was as high as in the urban areas,” he added.
He further said that the prevalence of diabetes in Baluchistan had increased up to 60%, more than double the overall prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan which is around 26% and called for more comprehensive studies to ascertain the causes of such a high prevalence of diabetes among people of Baluchistan.
“Overall, diabetes prevalence in Pakistan is 26%, but unfortunately, it is around 60% in Baluchistan, which is very alarming. The reason behind such a high prevalence of diabetes in Baluchistan, according to local doctors, is restricted movement of people due to the law and order situation and absence of recreational facilities in the underdeveloped province of Pakistan,” said Prof Dr Abdul Basit.
The IDF official maintained that in addition to restricted movement and lack of recreational facilities in Baluchistan, there is also a need to conduct scientific researches as to why people of Baluchistan are more prone to having diabetes genetically as compared to people of rest of Pakistan. “We conducted two research studies in the Hub town of Baluchistan where we found diabetes and obesity to be on the rise among the general population, but there is a need to conduct comprehensive studies in all of Baluchistan,” maintained Prof Abdul Basit.
Former Federal Health Secretary, Ayub Shaikh, claimed that there were some villages in Pakistan where “100% of the population” was living with diabetes, but unfortunately, none of them were aware of their disease. He added that there was an urgent need to take up this issue and create awareness about this non-communicable disease, which was spreading faster than communicable diseases.
Praising the Baqai Institute of Diabetology and Endocrinology (BIDE), Karachi, for carrying out a comprehensive survey to ascertain the overall prevalence of diabetes in Pakistan, the former health secretary urged the authorities to pay attention to growing incidence of diabetes and take immediate and long-term measures to prevent a vast majority of people from becoming due to diabetes and its complications including diabetic foot ulcers.
Renowned Diabetologist and Chairman of the organizing committee of the foot conference, Dr Zahid Miyan, said that the NADEP is the National Association of Diabetes Educators of Pakistan, which is striving to educate doctors, healthcare providers including nurses and paramedics, as well as people living with diabetes so that they could be prevented from severe complications of the life-style disease including amputations of lower limbs.
“At our center, with the help of education and focus on prevention, amputation rates have decreased merely to 4%. We have been able to save thousands of limbs, which used to be amputated, but there is a need to train more doctors, healthcare providers, and the people in this regard. We are performing this job by regularly holding conferences like Nadep Footcon 2019,” said Dr Miyan.
Other experts including Prof Dr Roberto Anichini from Italy, Dr Zulfiqar G Abbas from Tanzania, Prof Dr Bikha Ram, Vice-Chancellor, Liaquat University of Medical Health Sciences (LUMHS), Dr Saif-ul-Haq from BIDE, Karachi, and others also spoke at the first day of two-day international moot.