Times Online from England published an article describing the overwhelming increase of diabetes as the reason for amputation of younger people’s legs worldwide – widely eclipsing land mines. Diabetes now accounts for 70 percent of all lower limb amputations, and Handicap International is now joining forces with the World Diabetes Federation campaign to reduce the incidence and improve the treatment of diabetes in developing countries.
The WDF works to create partnerships in the developing world to help prevent diabetes with a noble goal – because earlier treatment of diabetes foot complications could prevent 85 percent of these amputations! What might be devastating to someone in a developed country is usually the sign that heralds the loss of a family’s livelihood and poverty becomes inevitable. In these parts of the world, artificial lower limbs are ok for walking but not adequate for hard manual work – and these patients tend to be middle aged with maximal domestic responsibilities and providing for several generations. In India, these patients aren’t overweight and obese like in America, but instead lean and strong agricultural workers.
Dr. Kalkunte Suresh, financed by the WDF, the WHO, and Handicap International, is leading a foot care division organizing local clinics to screen people for diabetes and the first signs of nerve damage that can desensitize feet and create vulnerability to minor or major injury. Dr. Suresh spreads the message of prevention and treatment of diabetes, and relies on channels of communication through well-respected locals (usually popular village postmen or bus drivers) to help educate fellow villagers about diabetes diagnosis, the need for foot care, and the importance of wearing shoes inside and out. These aspects of diabetes can be further spread by street performers using short acts and traditional songs, altered to educate on prevention and treatment.