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Amputation alarm

Repeka Nasiko
Thursday, July 18, 2013

AN average of 400 amputations are conducted on diabetic patients every year.

This was the startling revelation made by the non-communicable diseases national adviser Dr Isimeli Tukana.

"Our amputation rate for diabetic patients every year is now at 400, which means we've had about 1200 amputations in the last three years," Dr Tukana said.

"From that statistic, we are looking at about 33 amputations per month and eight done every week. On average, that's one every 12.6hours.

"In 2010, the highest number was recorded with 693 amputations. That meant almost two operations were carried out every day.

"That's our reality at the moment and it has been happening for quite a while now."

Dr Tukana said medical expenses were also taking a strain from the ever-growing operations on diabetic patients.

"The service to conduct an amputation is free but the ministry (Health) does shoulder the costs of each operation.

"From an operational perspective, it costs us our orthopaedic surgeons, our anaesthetists, our nurses, medical equipment used for each surgery and also the physiotherapy sessions."

He said the socio-economic costs from a single person losing a leg or a foot were also great.

"It also results in people being unable to carry out their jobs effectively and there is the loss of time which they had to take when they were in surgery and rehab time. Some may have to leave their work because they are not able to work under those conditions."

While the alarming figures paint a grim picture of the adverse effects of NCDs, Dr Tukana said the results led to a more strategic approach from the ministry.

He said this was one of the reasons hub centres were established in various communities.

He added they wanted to ensure early detection and ensure people were able to be treated early before going to such extremes as amputation.

"The surgeries that we have been doing are cases in which we can't save the leg. It's at a point where we have no other choice but to cut it off.

"But this is what we don't want and why we have encouraged hub centres to be placed where people can come in and get themselves checked for NCDs.

"We also encourage people to check their feet every morning to ensure they are healthy."





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