Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos, CEO of the Australian Diabetes Society, promotes his organization and to raise awareness of diabetic foot disease. He has joined forces with Diabetic Foot Australia (DFA) and Wound Innovations in order to tackle this growing health issue.
Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos is the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Diabetes Society and Director of Corporate Affairs of the National association of Diabetes Centres and Head of the Islet Biology and Metabolism Research Group at the University of Melbourne; Department of Medicine (Austin Health) which investigates the genetic susceptibility of islet dysfunction using animal models of diabetes. Dr Andrikopoulos has had grant support from the NH&MRC since 2000, is Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Endocrinology/Journal of Molecular Endocrinology. Dr. Andrikopoulos was awarded a NHMRC award for research excellence in 2008 and a Diabetes Australia research Trust millennium award in 2010.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio and I’m your host, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos, the CEO of the Australian Diabetes Society and Director of Corporate Affairs of the National Association of Diabetes Centers. Today, we’re going to talk about a special coalition of leading Diabetes Associations who have joined together in an effort to end avoidable diabetes related amputations. Without further ado, welcome to the show Sof. It’s so nice to have you here.
Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos: Thank you very much and thank you for the opportunity to talk about the coalition between the Diabetic Foot Association and the Australian Diabetes Society.
Tabetha: So Dr. Sof, please tell the audience more about your organization and the special coalition that you have come up with.
Dr. Andrikopoulos: So the Australian Diabetes Society is the peak health professional body for diabetes in Australia. It represents all the health professionals and the research scientists and the clinicians who are interested in diabetes. So with this coalition, what we are trying to do is to bring together the health professionals who are interested in diabetes as well as those who are very specifically interested in managing diabetic foot and foot disease, which is related to diabetes.
Tabetha: That’s fantastic to know. So Dr. Sof, can you please tell us how new diabetics develop this diabetes foot disease?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: We do know that high blood sugar levels cause what we call diabetic neuropathy and that is the decreased sensation to pain in extremities, including feet and toes. So if you don’t feel sensation or pain in your toes, in your feet, you’re more likely to develop wounds and ulcers that can ultimately lead to amputations. And we do know that diabetes is responsible for about 4,400 amputations per year in Australia.
Tabetha: I see. So can you tell us a Dr. Sof, why is this relevant to other health professionals?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: Well it is very relevant because we do know that there’s 1.7 million people with diabetes. And most of these people are cared for in primary care, in GP lanes by general practitioners, and we do need to be mindful that if we can manage diabetes early and effectively, we can prevent complications including diabetic foot and neuropathy, and diabetic foot ulcerations and wounds which will lead to reduced amputations.
Tabetha: Well that’s good to know that your organization along with other leading diabetes organizations have joined in order to raise awareness for this.
Dr. Andrikopoulos: Yes, indeed. So I think together and in a united way, we are more likely to be able to provide better healthcare, better standards of care, better health outcomes for people with diabetes so we can prevent as much as possible amputations related to diabetes.
Tabetha: Yes, that’s good to know. So, Dr. Sof so can you tell us aside from this, what is your biggest current event? What’s going on with your organization nowadays?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: So the organization is very much interested in education and we have two we are running a number of general practice masterclass education activities in Sydney and in Brisbane to upskill and educate general practitioners in the management and the treatment of diabetes and diabetes complications. What we do know is that 95 percent of people are diagnosed in general practice and treated by general practitioners for their diabetes, at least in the early stages. So the Australians Diabetes Society is very much committed to upskilling and educating general practitioners in one: detecting diabetes and two: in managing diabetes at the early stages to prevent complications such as diabetic foot disease.
Tabetha: That’s wonderful to know. If you don’t mind, can I ask you a personal question?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: Sure.
Tabetha: Actually, this is the same question that I asked your partner earlier, Dr Ian Griffith but I’m still going to ask you. Why are you so passionate about helping people with diabetes?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: Look, it’s a very good question. I don’t diabetes, none of my immediate family has diabetes but I have this thing called the bug and the ‘research bug,’ it’s a bug for research and for knowledge and for understanding of disease, and for me it’s diabetes. I’m completely passionate about providing more education and more awareness about diabetes and how we can prevent diabetes and if we do have diabetes, we can manage it and we can prevent diabetes complications such as foot disease, neuropathy, eye disease, cardiovascular disease which is the biggest killer of people with diabetes. My passion is to be able to tell people that ‘If you do have diabetes, please be mindful, please be careful. Please take your medication, do the right thing in terms of lifestyle modification. Eat well, exercise so that you can prevent any of those complications that we just talked about such as foot amputations, kidney disease, blindness, and cardiovascular disease.’
Tabetha: That’s fantastic to know. Please tell our audience, for those who want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Dr. Andrikopoulos: It’s very simple. For people who want more information, they can go to the Australian Diabetes Society website which is www.diabetessociety.com.au and on that website you will find all information including position statements, guidelines, and alerts in the prevention of diabetes as well as the management of diabetes and its complications. Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk to you.
Tabetha: Thank you also Dr So for coming on the show. It was wonderful having you.
Dr. Andrikopoulos: Thank you very much, it’s been a pleasure.
Tabetha: And that was Dr. Sof Andrikopoulos. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We’re on all social media platforms, so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. Show us some love by subscribing to our HPR YouTube channel. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Merito and this is Health Professional Radio.