allAfrica.com: Zimbabwe: Authorities Partner to Open Diabetic Foot Clinics:
New reports from the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) indicate that Zimbabwe has the fourth highest prevalence of diabetes in the African region. People with diabetes have an increased risk of developing a number of serious health problems including cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure, infection and lower limb amputation.
To address this emerging crisis, the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association (ZDA), Ministry of Health and Child Care, International Diabetes Federation (IDF), and University of Zimbabwe are partnering to establish preventative foot care centres that provide screening and early detection services as well as education and awareness campaigns about diabetic foot complications and diabetic risk factors.
In cooperation with the IDF BRIDGES Research Net programme, the preventative foot care centres will replicate a successful diabetic foot care project originally developed in Alexandria, Egypt. This unique South-South cooperation will allow the sharing of best practices in diabetic research, prevention and treatment programmes in high-risk areas throughout the region.
The project will start at Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospitals, and then cascade to other Provinces. Harare City Health Department will assist in the recruitment of diabetic patients from their clinics.
On 1 April, Professor Samir Khalil, principal investigator of the original project in Egypt, will initiate a four-day training of local teams in Harare to ensure successful implementation. Upon successful completion of the training, the IDF is expected to fund the project.
“After successful results in Egypt, we are excited to share our foot care project with the rest of the world,” stated Professor Khalil. “In less than two years in Egypt, we managed to educate more than 2700 professionals nationwide. Almost all universities now have a module on diabetes foot care included in their graduate and post graduate curriculum.”
“These preventative foot care centres will be instrumental in enhancing preventative strategies through empowering healthcare practitioners as well as early referral, non-invasive vascular testing, imaging and follow up services for patients,” described Dr John Mangwiro, Board President and Mr Ngoni Chigwana, CEO of the ZDA when they showed the Ministry of Health the room that Harare Central Hospital has donated to run the state-of-the-art diabetes centre.
The opening of the foot care centres at Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospitals also comes at a significant time. On 14 November, the IDF leads the World Diabetes Day campaign and will help promote ‘diabetes aware’ cities throughout Zimbabwe using mobile health tools and the local media.
“People in urban areas will be particularly vulnerable. Socially and economically this diabetes epidemic will be very costly. It is important that we find new ways of working across all sectors to provide people with targeted information on healthier lifestyle options,” says Sir Michael Hirst, President, IDF.
Healthier lifestyle options for Type 2 diabetes often includes increasing physical activity levels, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, maintaining one’s body weight, and eliminating substances of abuse such as tobacco and alcohol. Many of these recommendations are known but not actively applied to one’s day-to-day living.
To encourage action and results, the ZDA and the preventative foot care centres will provide opportunities for the public to get information, get involved, get results and stop this diabetes epidemic in its tracks.
To find out more about the diabetic foot clinics, listen to a live interview on Star FM with Dr John Mangwiro and Mr Ngoni Chigwana of the ZDA on Monday March 31st at 08:30 am. To get involved in the ‘diabetes aware’ cities campaign or if you need immediatehelp, contact the Zimbabwe Diabetic Association at +263 772 902 779.
BRIDGES is a programme of the International Diabetes Federation supported by an educational grant from Lilly Diabetes.
The writer is a doctor and an international health columnist that works in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s goals of disease prevention and control. Views do not necessarily reflect endorsement.