Life in the Brazilian Amazon region is tough: rivers instead of roads, few qualified healthcare professionals and disorganised public service. More than half of the estimated 280,000 people with diabetes have foot problems.
Eliana Marques Gomes da Silva qualified as a stomatherapist nurse with a special interest in people with diabetes and diabetic foot. Her dedication is widely recognised. Within the challenging Amazonas Unified Public System, she set up several training courses for nurses to improve their skills on how to treat diabetic foot patients.
There are no podiatrists in Brazil. Instead, in the 1990s, to overcome this void, the Save the Diabetic Foot Project—in 2012 continued by the Step-by-Step programmes—started training and qualifying nurses to look after people with diabetes. The Brazilian Diabetes Association supported this initiative. Today, however, accredited podiatry clinical courses in nursing curricula are still a distant dream.
In 2018, the Amazonas State University introduced accredited podiatry clinical courses in the nursing curriculum, to be completed in July 2020. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 crisis hit particularly hard in the Amazonas region and delayed graduation of the first promotion until October 2020.
Eliana’s decisive action in the midst of sheer chaos and live classes being replaced by virtual learning greatly motivated nurses in training to continue taking the courses, often in difficult professional and financial circumstances.
But progress is being made. Recently, the Integrated System of Attention to the Diabetic Foot was implemented. The Public Federal Ministry partnered with the Health Secretariat to regulate patient access to care. Implementation of the IWGDF Guidelines, first presented in Manaus in 2019, will hopefully help reorganise the Amazonas Unified Public System.
To recognise her work and relentless dedication to people with diabetic foot and the many nurses taking care of them in the Amazonas, the D-Foot International SACA Regional Chair, supported by the D-Foot National Representatives in Brazil and the Grupo Brasileiro de Neuropatias e Pé diabético (BRANSPEDI), nominate Eliana Marques Gomes da Silva for an award.
Nurse Eliana Marques Gomes da Silva is a professor at the State University of Amazonas (UEA). She graduated in Nursing from the Faculty Nilton Lins do Amazonas in 2004 and obtained her Master in Health Sciences (MSc) degree at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP). She did a Postgraduation in the area of Stomatherapy at USP. She is currently a professor, researcher, coordinator of the Stomatherapy Research Laboratory at the UEA, coordinator of the specialization course in Nursing in Clinical Podiatrics at the University of the State of Amazonas (UEA) and also coordinates the ENFERCLIN Company (Pioneer in the State of Amazonas) in the area of Stomatherapy. She has also implemented the University Extension Project, entitled Telestomatherapy, to reach more health care professionals (HCP) in the Amazonas, where the rivers play a role of roads and the boats the automobiles, while 53% of the state population live in the capital, Manaus.