Updated 01 February 2017

Diabetes: foot amputation avoidable

It is estimated that every 30 seconds a lower limb has to be amputated somewhere in the world as a consequence of diabetes.


With the world facing an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes - in South Africa alone the incidence of this disease is soaring at an estimated rate of 11 percent every year - it is increasingly critical that people understand the real implications of untreated diabetes.

Diabetes is a common, life-long physical condition which develops when the body does not produce, or properly use, insulin. Type 2 -diabetes is a disease of lifestyle, with environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise being contributing factors in a patient with a genetic predisposition.

However, despite a common perception, people do not die from diabetes, but rather from complications arising from diabetes. Foot problems are without a doubt one of the most serious complications of diabetes, but fortunately, they are also extremely preventable.

First Diabetic Foot Congress
The Diabetic Foot Working Group (DFWG), an autonomous association which serves as the overall representative body of diabetic foot care in South Africa, is working hard to reduce lower limb amputation in diabetics from 80 percent to 40 percent over the next five years. The first Diabetic Foot Congress will be held in Johannesburg from 14 to 16 June 2008. Organised by DFWG, the congress is aimed at increasing awareness of diabetic foot disease and identifying means to prevent what is one of the most preventable long-term complications of diabetes.

DFWG and the sponsors of the event want to help create an integrated care approach to diabetic foot disease. A strategy based on prevention with regular screening and education of patients at risk as well as staff could reduce amputation rates by between 49 to 85 percent.

DFWG seeks to improve the quality of people’s lives, and one integral way they can do this is by encouraging and educating people to take responsibility for their own health, to try and prevent diseases and, in the case of diabetes, to manage the symptoms and minimise their risk of developing serious complications.

For more information on diabetic foot disease, or on the Diabetic Foot Congress, visit

Read more:
Diabetes Centre
Diabetic foot care: Do's and Don'ts

June 2008


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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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