AMPUTATION rates in Fiji have reached alarming levels.
And those suffering from diabetes have been urged to visit their nearest health facilities to get screened and avoid losing a valuable part of their body.
A three-year survey conducted by Diabetes Fiji revealed that a total of 938 amputations were performed at the country's largest referral centre, CWM Hospital, from 2010 to 2012.
Organisation administration officer diabetes and researcher Kishan Kumar, who presented his findings at a public seminar at FNU's Pasifika Campus yesterday, said of all the amputations, digit, knee, above knee and forefoot amputations were the most common.
Mr Kumar said of the 938 amputations, the highest (71 per cent) belonged to iTaukei men and 26.2 per cent were statistics from Fijians of Indian descent over 45 years of age.
"Digit amputation is removal of one finger.
"The main problem associated with amputations are foot problems — ulcers and one of the identified or recognised problem is poor glycaemic control — when patients do not have controlled sugar," Mr Kumar said.
He said with diabetes being the biggest contributor to the high amputation rates, one out of every eight patients who had an amputation was not aware that he/she was diabetic.
"Similar findings were done in 2002 where there were 16 per cent of Fiji's population were diabetic and out of which 50 per cent were unrecognised diabetics.
"One screening is not a good factor to say you are not diabetic — you need to get screened at least thrice in a month."
He said factors leading to amputations were health seeking behaviours of patients and late presentation to hospitals.
"Our study showed that health care is not a problem. We did not find any major difference. The patients are coming at a late stage so amputation or surgery has to be done to save the life of the patient."
He said to address the problem people should get themselves screened early, diabetic patients should take control of their sugar levels and look after their feet.