Complications from diabetes, not accidents, are responsible for the majority of Nigerians living with amputation. It is estimated that complications from diabetes (Type-2) account for some 70% of amputations in the country.
The founder of IfeanHealth Orthopaedics, Ejike Anih, in an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, disclosed that studies have shown that more than 70% of Nigerians living with amputation are caused by complications from diabetes.
He referenced an analysis that estimated the number of people living with amputations in Nigeria at 1.6 million.
“Our data indicates about 1.6 million Nigerians are living with amputation. There are also about 100,000 new amputations every year, so that is a lot of new amputees every year.
“Many people will think it is poor people or vehicular accidents or insurgency but about 70-75 per cent are caused by diabetes. People with Type 2 Diabetes are not the poorest in the community,” he added.
While noting that amputation, which is the loss or removal of a body part such as a finger, toe, hand, foot, arm or leg, can be a life-changing experience as it affects the ability to move, work, interact with others and maintain independence, he said there is hope.
“So the role of stakeholders is to provide awareness. Many people that have lost limbs are not aware they can get a new leg. In fact, many people will refuse to have their legs amputated and insist on dying with their legs rather than lose them because they think their lives are over. They think they are stuck with a wheelchair or with clutches once amputation takes place.
“The key differentiator is when they know that there is hope and we try to convey that message. Unfortunately, Type 2 Diabetes is real and some people lose their legs but we encourage them not to worry too much because they will get back on their feet,” he added.
Anih said there is a need to create awareness about Type 2 Diabetes, the risk factor and how it can be managed.
He said there are therapies on how to manage diabetes, stressing that in advanced countries, people live with diabetes because of early diagnosis and adherence to recommended medical treatment and lifestyle adjustments.
He advised that amputation is not the end of the world as people living with disabilities can become income earners if they get the prosthetics and orthotics solutions they need.
He called on government and other stakeholders to partner with private institutions to provide scalable, subsidized and effective artificial limbs.
While noting that most health insurance plans do not include prosthetics, he added that the exchange rate also affects the cost of prosthetics as most of the components are imported.
Anih explained that IfeanHealth established four offices in Nigeria in different parts of the country – Lagos, Kano and Enugu – to ensure that amputees from all parts of the country have access to modern and functional prosthetics and orthotics at affordable rates.