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Azad plans diabetes test for villagers
Published on 4 Oct. 2009 11:23 PM IST
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India is known as the diabetes capital of the world and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad wants to fight that tag -- starting with mandatory diabetes and hypertension tests through easy and affordable test kits for all villagers above the age of 35 years. “We have a huge burden of diabetes. But awareness level about the disease is very low in rural areas. We are planning to provide a diabetes test to villagers above the age of 35 or 40,” Azad said. “We are formulating a scheme to facilitate a mandatory check-up of the rural population for diabetes as well as hypertension through grassroots health workers. They can be trained and provided a diagnostic kit to detect diabetes. Simultaneously, a programme for diabetes control can be launched,” he added. “I have already held a series of meetings with my officers about it. We are serious about it and this is one of my own initiatives,” he said at a South Asian diabetes conference organised by the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here Sunday. Azad said testing 25 to 30 crore people mainly above the age of 35-40 years through Glucometer will be a tough task. “To test 25 or 30 crore people through this will cost the government around Rs.1,500 to Rs.1,600 crore and this the health ministry cannot afford. I have asked the department of health research to develop cost-effective test sticks.” “If we fail, we are ready for a collaboration with private pharma companies to develop it. I will make sure that villagers get the facility,” the minister added. India is home to over 30 million diabetes patients and the country is often referred as the diabetes capital of the world. Changing lifestyle and unhealthy food habits are some of the key reasons for its spread across the country. The minister said that since India lives in its villages, a large percentage of these diabetic populations is from the rural areas. Though the urban population has ways and means for regular check-ups of hypertension and diabetes, that is not the case of the rural population. “Currently, a stick is used in Glucometer which costs around Rs.30 a piece. Once we develop that here, it should not be more than Rs.five or six. This will be the easiest way to control the disease,” Azad said, adding that once people know their blood sugar level, they can seek a doctor’s help. Regional media will also be mobilized to take up the cause, Azad said. “If diabetes cases could be easily detected and awareness created among the rural population about its implications, a substantial dent can be made to this disease,” the minister said. Software to keep record of health campaign Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is not happy with data on the outcome of immunisation drives and his ministry is developing a software which will keep a thorough record of all such health campaigns. “The outcome of immunisation drives is not satisfactory. I asked my officers how they arrive at these figures and the reply was not very convincing. I have told them to have a new software which will help us in getting the authentic figures,” Azad said. “These software will be provided to all blocks under the National Rural Health Mission as they already have computers and a person to man it. The data will be collected at that level. “All the kids will have their name, father’s name and telephone number (in the database). If someone does not have a telephone number then his neighbour’s telephone number will be there. This will help monitoring the immunisation drive better,” he said at a diabetes conference organised by the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. “By the end of this year, you may see this happening.” He said his ministry spends a lot on surveys and he would like to “do away with them”. “I have respect for NGOs. But what the so many people in government cannot do, how can three-four people (of a NGO) do?” India has been carrying out several immunisation drives - some universal and others targeted. However, at least half of the children do not get vaccinated for various diseases.

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