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Diabetes leads to 5,000 amputations annually in Kazakhstan

©Tengrinews.kz ©Tengrinews.kz

Diabetes often causes complications that lead to nearly 5,000 amputations every year in Kazakhstan, Tengrinews reports citing Zhanai Akanov, Head of the Center for Diabetes at Almaty-based Kazakh National Medical University named after Sanzhar Asfendiyarov, as saying. According to the doctor the only choice that patients with advanced diabetilies often have is between amputation and death.

"Patients with very high blood sugar level get infected wounds after leg injuries, which subsequently causes gangrene (life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies (necrosis)). If the gangrene grows, unfortunately, the only solution in our country is amputation. In all other countries, operations are conducted to save the limbs. They try to make angioplasty, to save the leg, to excise the necrotic tissue a little," the doctor said. A center, where such surgeries can be made, is expected to open in Kazakhstan only this year.

In addition, after having the amputation surgeries and becoming disabled, the patients with diabetes often become prone to committing suicide, Akanov said. The reason behind it a sharp deterioration of their financial condition and stress.

Akanov also noted that among other diabetes complications were blindness, heart attacks and strokes. However, Kazakhstan did not keep that statistics.

The doctor also told Tengrinews about the method Kazakhstani doctors used to treat diabetes. According to him, there are nearly 290,000 patients with diabetes in Kazakhstan. But currently, there is only one diabetes center in Kazakhstan that has 60 beds. 2,600 people have received medical aid there since December 2012. “A patient is examined by a group of doctors, specialised doctors. The group includes a cardiologist, neurologist, vascular surgeon, ophthalmologist and other doctors. Eight doctors examine the patient for eight days. Then we begin the treatment that the patients continue in outpatient hospitals," Akanov said.

Another line of work of the Diabetes Center is helping women with diabetes through pregnancy and to deliver babies. The canter's doctors have seen 11 babies born and are currently monitoring eight pregnant women with diabetes. “This is a pilot project. When the total number reaches 40, we will be able to offer our experience to the health care system. Pregnancy is not a contraindicative for diabetics," he said.

According to the doctor, similar diabetes centers may soon be opened in Kostanai, Semey, Aktau and Astana. The choice of location is based on the concentration of diabetes patience - in these cities the centres will be able to cover the greatest number of patients. The opening of the first center in Kostanai is planned for April 2015.

"A common problem is lack of clear understanding of the required changes in the lifestyle and eating habits among diabetes patients. In many cases they are not given clear explanations and instructions by their doctors and no preventive measures are taken. We need to educate people with diabetes from the beginning. And only then we can expect the number of diabetes-related amputations, strokes and heart attacks to decrease in Kazakhstan," Akanov said.

According to him, diabetes now costs Kazakhstan 10 billion dollars, of which 3 billion is spent on insulin, 2 billion on treatment and examination of patients, around 3 billion on social security contributions and 1 billion on research.

Writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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