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Government of Jamaica

NHF PROMISES SUPPORT TO FURTHER EXPAND TRAINING OF FOOTCARE ASSISTANTS AND SO REDUCE AMPUTATIONS IN DIABETICS

NHF PROMISES SUPPORT TO FURTHER EXPAND TRAINING OF FOOTCARE ASSISTANTS AND SO REDUCE AMPUTATIONS IN DIABETICS

Fifty (50) Footcare Assistants graduated from phase two (2) of the Footcare Assistants Training Programme organised by the Diabetes Association of Jamaica with sponsorship from the National Health Fund, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston yesterday (November 12, 2007). This brings the total number of footcare assistants trained to seventy eight (78) with NHF grants amounting to $6.4 million. Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Chief Executive Officer of the National Health Fund, Mr. Rae Barrett announced that the NHF will be making another grant available to the Diabetes Association of Jamaica to train an additional fifty (50) footcare assistants beginning early next year.

The Footcare Assistants were trained to identify and treat simple problems of the feet such as corns, blisters, calluses and ingrown toenails and refer difficult cases for further medical intervention thereby reducing the risk of amputations. Mr. Barrett stated that, Through the footcare assistants training programme, the NHF is achieving its mandate of reducing the burden of healthcare for diabetics by assisting them to avoid amputations. Various studies have shown that diabetes is one of the leading chronic illnesses in Jamaica. Over 300,000 persons have diabetes with only 50% being aware of their condition. 17.9% of the 15 plus age group are affected by diabetes.

More alarmingly, statistics from the Ministry of Health and Environment reveal that in public hospitals between 2003 and 2005 there was an average of 350 amputations each year due to diabetes. To date, NHF has provided over $351.8 million for NHFcard drug subsidy and $44.5 million for diabetics supplies. In addition, NHF has instituted, in collaboration with the private sector, a programme that provides diabetics with Glucometers, free of charge, for self monitoring. Mr. Barrett advised that the impact of the Footcare Assistants Programme will be reviewed in 2 to 3 years to evaluate the effect on diabetic foot care in the island. The Jamaican Footcare Assistants Training Programme has generated interest from other Caribbean islands who are seeking to replicate it in their country.

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