167th Inaugural Unachukwu Advocates Preventive Measures Against Diabetic Foot Ulcers

167th Inaugural
Unachukwu Advocates Preventive Measures Against Diabetic Foot Ulcers

By Humphrey Ogu
Issues bordering on the prevention and management of foot ulcers in diabetics formed the main thrust of the 167th Inaugural Lecture delivered by Professor Chioma Unachukwu of the Department of Medicine, Faculty of Clinical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences. The well-patronised lecture, which held at the EbitimiBanigo Auditorium on Thursday, January 30, 2020 was entitled, “The Burden of the Foot in Diabetes: A Preventable Agony.”
Observing that prevention is the key to reducing the burden of the Diabetic Foot Ulcers (DFU), Professor Unachukwu stated that approximately 85 per cent of diabetes-related amputations are preventable. “The high cost of treating diabetic foot ulcers argues for the need for better treatment strategies and preventive measures. Nowadays, the aim is to prevent than to treat foot ulcers. The prevention of foot ulcers is thus an important component of diabetes management,” she emphasised. 
Professor Unachukwu who blamed the poor management of diabetes for the progression of diabetic ulcers amongst Nigerians, warned of the grave danger associated with the debilitating condition if not detected and managed by qualified medical personnel. “In view of the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases in a resource-limited setting like ours, there is an urgent need to curb the scourge of diabetes and its complications.” She called for properly structured and extensive footcare education in Nigeria within the framework of a multidisciplinary team to manage the rising scourge.     
“DFU is very high in Nigeria and the identified gaps include poverty, ignorance and low level of footcare knowledge and high patronage of unorthodox medicine, late hospital presentation and the various myths and misconceptions, amongst others. This is a clarion call for action in terms of advocacy, promotion of awareness and public health policies that would empower health personnel to prevent the agony of DFU,” the 167th Inaugural Lecturer told the audience. 
Professor Unachukwu, who is a Fellow of  the American College of  Endocrinologists, identified lack of awareness of the need for footcare  among patients, their relatives and healthcare providers due to the obvious gaps in diabetes education, lack of training programmes for health professionals on DFU and little or no emphasis on DFUs in basic training and continuing education of doctors and nurses, non-availability and affordability of prosthesis for amputees, as some of the  challenges in the prevention and management of diabetic foot ulcers in resource-poor environments such as Nigeria. 
On steps that should be taken to prevent diabetic foot ulcers, the Inaugural Lecturer said: “An effective educational programme should be put in place for foot ulcer prevention targeted at healthcare workers/diabetes educators whose responsibility it will be to pass on the appropriate advice to patients and their families.”
She also called for the implementation of sustainable training programmes for healthcare professionals that focuses on the management of  diabetic foot ulcers, setting up diabetic foot clinics in every hospital,  empowerment of people living with diabetes to better footcare, early detection and timely intervention to check escalation of the situation, including involvement of  policymakers and other stakeholders in the care of people living with diabetes, and community grassroots involvement, amongst other measures.  
Professor Unachukwu, who had carried out extensive research in Rivers State and other parts of the country, stressed the need for good glycaemic control to prevent the many complications associated with diabetes milletus. “Diabetic foot problems are of great importance to healthcare givers. The burden is enormous on the patients and the society in general. It ranks among the ten global causes of disability with global prevalence of 6.3%. They cause more in-patient bed occupancy and prolonged hospital admissions than all other medical complications of diabetes put together,” the diabetologist stated, urging those who are vulnerable to examine their feet on a regular basis to prevent complications that could lead to amputations and gradual death.  
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Professor NdowaLale, commended the Lecturer for drawing attention to the challenges associated with the prevention and management of diabetic foot ulcers in a resource-poor setting such as Nigeria. “From what the Inaugural Lecturer told us today, I think the key to effective diabetic footcare, and overall wellbeing is personal responsibility and lifestyle changes. Like many people in this audience today, each time, I listen to medical doctors give their Inaugural Lectures, I go home with a measure of trepidation; but it is important that we all listen to their serious message that is vital to our longevity and wellbeing. I want to thank Professor Unachukwu for a very brilliant lecture that testifies to her solid knowledge of the subject matter,” the Vice Chancellor observed.  
Professor Lale announced that the 168th Inaugural Lecture entitled: “But for Philosophy, What is Man?” will be delivered by Professor Lucky Akaruese of the Department of Philosophy on Thursday, March 26, 2020.

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