Over the past few years, the amputation rate has increased around the world. This is a sign of concern not only for patients but for health authorities as well. Several reasons have contributed to the rise in amputations:
COVID-19 itself is not a cause of amputations. However, since its emergence, cases of amputation have risen. During the pandemic, many OPDs were closed down and consultations were delayed. As a result, many patients with underlying disease experienced infections that ultimately lead to amputations.
Within the hospitals, beds were designated to COVID-19 patients, which reduced the available beds for other patients. Patients who could otherwise have received treatments for wounds were not able to get medical attention. The delay in medical care resulted in increased risk of infection, which ultimately led to amputations.
Some patients did not visit hospitals themselves because of the fear of catching COVID-19. Despite suffering from stubborn and dangerous infections, people were reluctant to go to hospitals. This also delayed the medical care that could save the patients from amputations. Hence, cases of amputation tripled.
Rise of Diabetes Cases
Diabetes is one of the major medical conditions that leads to amputations. Unfortunately, the prevalence of diabetes is increasing every year and increasing the risk of limb removal. As per IDF Diabetes report, almost 19 million adults in Pakistan are estimated to be living with diabetes. The overall prevalence of the disease is at 17.1%, which is about 148% higher than previously reported figures.
Diabetic foot and foot ulcer are common complications that require amputation to save a patient’s life. Due to increasing cases of diabetes, the amputation rate has also increased.
Subpar Awareness of Wound Care
Wounds are prone to infections which in turn can damage the cells and tissues in the area. Sometimes the damage is too severe and amputation is required. To avoid this, quality wound care facilities and awareness is required. Patients hardly seek medical advice for wounds and instead try to treat it at home with self-medication.
Because of subpar wound care awareness, the same bandages are used over and over again. Consequently, the area becomes more prone to infection. Often, by the time patients seek medical advice, infections become resistant to antibiotics and amputation is required to save the patient’s life.
Severe traffic accidents can crush bones beyond repair. In many cases, the only way to treat such patients is to amputate the damaged limb. From 2009 to 2020, about 104,105 accidents were reported in Pakistan. Almost half of them were fatal while others left the patients with disabling injuries.
What is even more concerning is that the number of accidents is rising. Since such accidents are one of the major reasons for amputations, the overall amputation rates in Pakistan have also risen.
Smoking not only leads to lung and mouth cancer but is also responsible for vascular conditions in humans. Chemicals in tobacco cause the arteries to become narrow and hardened. It reduces the blood supply to the tissues and cells, which start to die. When the damage becomes too severe in the limbs they have to be amputated.
Pakistan has one of the world’s largest smoking populations. The rising number of smokers has increased medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and cancer as well. In addition to resulting conditions that can lead to amputations, smoking itself can also lead to amputations.
Measures To Reduce Amputations
In order to reduce the amputation rate, the following steps can be taken:
- Campaigns to increase awareness amputations and its common causes
- Health care for the patients at risk of amputation should not be delayed
- Factors that are contributing to rising cases of diabetes should be controlled
- Patients must be thoroughly briefed about the possible complications of diabetes
- Smoking cessation efforts should be made at a larger scale
- Strict traffic laws should be in place to prevent physically disabling accidents
- Public should be taught about basic wound care and when to seek professional medical advice
- Amidst the rise of COVID cases, other patients must not be ignored
Transparent Hands has been providing amputation surgeries as well as artificial limbs free of charge since 2014. We also set up free medical camps where deserving patients can get their sugar level checked. We need the support of generous donors like you to do all this. Donate to this cause now.