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KARACHI: Diabetes and tobacco combined are not only killing around 566,000 people in Pakistan annually but they have also emerged as the leading risk factor for Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFUs), which are the main cause of amputation in Pakistan, national and international experts said on Sunday and called for learning from the experience of developed countries in managing the epidemic of diabetes and its complications.

They said diabetes was killing four hundred thousand people annually in Pakistan while around 166,000 people were dying due to use of tobacco in Pakistan. They added that people living with diabetes who were addicted to smoking were also at greater risk of developing Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFUs), which were cause of 200,000 amputations in the country.

"Smoking causes dozens of diseases including peripheral arterial disease, which is known to be a risk factor affecting the amputation of diabetic foot. PAD with the highest severity is associated with a 20-fold higher prevalence of amputation in patients with diabetes", Shahzad Alam, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) told the National Association of Diabetes Educators of Pakistan (NADEP) Diabetes Footcon which concluded here on Sunday.

President of International Diabetes Federation (IDF) Prof. Andrew Boulton, as well as, experts from European, Middle Eastern and African countries and many leading health facilities and research centres from Pakistan gave presentations at the three-day conference on the issue of diabetic foot ulcers and called for a national program for the prevention of diabetes and treatment of diabetic foot ulcers among people with diabetes.

Shahzad Alam maintained that many Ulema consider use of tobacco as 'Haram or forbidden' but added that those living with diabetes should quit smoking and other forms of tobacco as early as possible to prevent themselves from the complications of disease which include heart attacks, stroke, loss of lower limbs among many others.

President of National Association of Diabetes Educators of Pakistan (NADEP) Dr. Saif ul Haq said people with diabetes needed education and awareness to prevent themselves from the complications of the disease including heart attacks, stroke, renal failure, retinal detachment and diabetic foot ulcers, which often lead to amputations.

"We also need specialized clinics to deal with the issue of Diabetic Foot Ulcers. NADEP is going to establish 300 such clinics in the country in coming years but we need 3000 such clinics and centres for prevention of amputations due to diabetic foot ulcers|, Dr. Saif ul Haq added.

International Diabetes Federation (IDF) President Prof. Andrew Boulton spoke about modern approaches to prevention of diabetic foot ulcers and informed that prevalence of diabetic foot ulcers is around 2 percent in the Europe whereas it is very high among people living with diabetes in the developing countries, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region due to lack of awareness and access to diabetes care in these countries.

The IDF President maintained that authorities and healthcare providers should launch programs to educate masses regarding prevention of diabetes including adoption of healthy lifestyle and eating balanced diet and called for using technology including telemedicine to approach millions of diabetics for their education and treatment of ulcers that are leading to amputation.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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