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India moots compulsory diabetes testing for villagers above 40

Monday, October 5, 2009, 14:02 This news item was posted in health category and has 0 Comments so far.

India is planning compulsory diabetes check for people above forty yeras in rural areas.

“We are formulating a scheme to facilitate mandatory check up of the rural population above the age of 40 years for diabetes as well as hypertension through the grassroots health workers, namely, ASHAs,” said the Union Minister of Health & Family welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad in an official release.

Health infrastructure developed through National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) can be leveraged for combating diabetes in India which has the largest number of diabetics in the world.

The health ministry plans to rope in six lakh Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA),the foot soldiers of the National Rural Health Mission.

Health workers operating in the grassroot level can be trained and provided a diagnostic kit to detect diabetes. Simultaneously a programme for diabetes control can be launched, Mr Azad stated while speaking on the occasion of SAARC Diabetes Conference – 2009.

Private sector as well as the associations of medical professionals needed to come forward and join hands with the government’s exercise to detect and contain the incidence of diabetes which is growing in the country and increasingly affecting people at a younger age, he said.

India has the largest number of diabetics in the world. A large percentage of these diabetic populations are from the rural areas. Though the urban population has ways and means for regular check up of hypertension and diabetes as facilities are available in the metropolitan cities and urban centres, but this is not so in the case of the rural population. They have hardly any access to facilities for regular medical checkup.

Indian government is in the process of formulating an action plan to speed up the health care delivery system in such remote areas.

The state governments have identified the difficult, most difficult and inaccessible areas and they are in the process of drawing up the action plan to improve the infrastructure and also provide special incentives to the health personnel to encourage them to work in these areas.

If diabetes cases could be easily detected and awareness created among the rural population about its implications, then a substantial dent can be made to this disease.

Marginal cases of diabetes can be easily tackled through yoga, naturopathy, right exercise and eating habits. This can also help in reducing the burden of health care costs.

Indian companies also required to develop low-cost diagnostic kits within the country to substantially bring down the cost.

Stem cells can now be grown and transferred into specialized medical therapies and this can be an answer to diabetes treatment, according to the minister.

Diabetes had become a serious public health problem in Asia. South East Asia alone has nearly 30 million diabetics and this number is likely to increase to 80 million by 2025.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes occurs when the body is not able to use sugar as it should. The body needs sugar for growth and energy for daily activities. It gets sugar when it changes food into glucose (a form of sugar). A hormone called insulin is needed for the glucose to be taken up and used by the body. Diabetes occurs when the body cannot make use of the glucose in the blood for energy because either the pancreas is not able to make enough insulin or the insulin that is available is not effective. The beta cells in areas of the pancreas called the islets of Langerhans usually make insulin.
There are two types of diabetes: insulin-dependent (Type 1) and noninsulin-dependent (Type 2). In insulin-dependent diabetes (IDDM), the pancreas makes little or no insulin because the insulin-producing beta cells have been destroyed. This type usually appears suddenly and most commonly in younger people under age 30. Treatment consists of daily insulin injections or use of an insulin pump, a planned diet and regular exercise, and daily self-monitoring of blood glucose.

In noninsulin-dependent diabetes (NIDDM), the pancreas makes some insulin, sometimes too much. The insulin, however, is not effective (see Insulin Resistance). NIDDM is controlled by diet and exercise and daily monitoring of glucose levels. Sometimes oral drugs that lower blood glucose levels or insulin injections are needed. This type of diabetes usually develops gradually, most often in people over 40 years of age. NIDDM accounts for 90 to 95 percent of diabetes.

Symptoms of diabetes include having to urinate often, losing weight, getting very thirsty, and being hungry all the time. Other signs are blurred vision, itching, and slow healing of sores. People with untreated or undiagnosed diabetes are thirsty and have to urinate often because glucose builds to a high level in the bloodstream and the kidneys are working hard to flush out the extra amount. People with untreated diabetes often get hungry and tired because the body is not able to use food the way it should.

In insulin-dependent diabetes, if the level of insulin is too low for a long period of time, the body begins to break down its stores of fat for energy. This causes the body to release acids (ketones) into the blood. The result is called ketoacidosis, a severe condition that may put a person into a coma if not treated right away.

The causes of diabetes are not known. Scientists think that insulin- dependent diabetes may be more than one disease and may have many causes. They are looking at hereditary (whether or not the person has parents or other family members with the disease) and at factors both inside and outside the body, including viruses.

Noninsulin-dependent diabetes appears to be closely associated with obesity and with the body resisting the action of insulin.

Uncntrolled diabetes can lead to several life-threatening diseases affecting almost all the vital organs in the body including heart, kidneys and eyes.

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