Swansea-Gambia link could save diabetic feet
A hands-on partnership between teams from Swansea and The Gambia has led to the launch of a free, world-wide, e-learning module which could save thousands of people in the developing world from losing limbs.
At the click of a mouse, clinicians and nurses from anywhere in the world - including the poorest countries - are now able to access vital information and training for a common condition called diabetic foot.
Diabetic foot, if left untreated or not cared for properly, can lead to devastating ulcers and infections resulting in amputations. Because diabetes disrupts the blood flow to the extremities, a small cut or blister can quickly turn into a medical emergency, with the possible loss of a foot or leg.
Working closely together, teams from both countries have produced an e-learning resource aimed at making it as easy as possible for training and key skills to be passed on.
Dr Steve Allen (pictured), Consultant Paediatrician and Reader in Paediatrics at Swansea University’s School of Medicine, said:"The e-learning module focuses on the assessment and management of the diabetic foot. It was developed in response to a direct request from our partners in The Gambia, who are faced with many relatively young adults with advanced stages of disease, who often require amputations."
"The project was supported by a grant from the Wales for Africa program of the Welsh Assembly Government. It brought together the diabetic teams in The Gambia and Morriston Hospital, together with expertise in learning technology at Swansea’s School of Medicine."
As part of the Swansea-Gambia link, Swansea NHS Trust worked with Swansea's School of Medicine and staff at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, situated in the country’s capital, Banjul, to develop a computer-based learning module. Expertise in developing computer-based modules for health staff in poorer countries has been developed through another Swansea-West Africa link – the Ibadan-Swansea Partnership developed by Swansea’s School of Medicine.
At the end of 2007, Dr. Lamin Jaiteh, a Senior House Officer at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital, spent six weeks in Swansea developing the module. He worked alongside Senior House Officer Alex Werhun. Both received training from Rosalyn Thomas, Swansea NHS Trust’s Deputy Head of Podiatry, and Jessica Griffiths, a Learning Technologist at the University. Doctors Steve Allen and Jeff Stephens provided support and supervision for the project.
When a draft version of the module was ready, the Swansea team visited The Gambia to work alongside local staff in improving the assessment and management of the diabetic foot. The module was put into practice and further refined to increase its value as a training resource.
As well as the teaching part of the visit, Rosalyn was able to observe clinics and assist with the treatment of patients with severe diabetic lesions. Along with Dr Werhun, she has now been invited to make a presentation about the project to the World Union of Wound Healing Societies 2008 conference in Canada in June.
Dr Jaiteh has been appointed by the National Diabetes Association in The Gambia as their representative to the International Working Group on the Diabetic Foot/International Diabetes Federation.
For further information about Swansea University's School of Medicine, please visit their website.