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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Insulin being made available at PHCs soon

Special Correspondent
To treat diabetics among rural population

Special postal cover on prevention of diabetes launched

Gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers a problem in rural areas: official

— Photo: S. R. Raghunathan

STAMP RELEASE: Indira Krishnakumar, Principal Chief Postmaster-General, Tamil Nadu Circle (extreme left), releasing the special postal cover on prevention of diabetes at a function in Chennai on Sunday. (From left) V.K. Subburaj, Health Secretary, P. Padmanabhan, Director of Public Health, and Vijay Viswanathan, managing director, M.V. Hospital for Diabetes, are in the picture.

CHENNAI: The Health Department plans to make available insulin at Primary Health Centres to treat the growing number of diabetics in rural population, Director of Public Health P. Padmanabhan said on Sunday.

Launching the ‘Patient booklet–FAQs on Diabetes’ brought out by the M.V. Hospital for Diabetes and Diabetes Research Centre, Dr. Padmanabhan said diabetes was no longer a disease of the cities or of the affluent sections as PHCs had begun to report about 150 patients every week.

A special postal cover on prevention of diabetes was also launched.

Dr. Padmanabhan, while noting that changed lifestyles and dietary patterns were responsible for diabetes making inroads into villages, suggested that the diabetes booklet on prevention be made available in Tamil.

The official said a major problem being faced in villages across the State was the phenomenon of gestational diabetes in pregnant mothers–about 10 per cent as opposed to 16-17 per cent in urban setting. The suspicion is gaining ground that gestational diabetes could be the cause for the high incidence of birth asphyxia deaths in the newborn, he said.

Among the over 11.50 lakh live births recorded annually in Tamil Nadu, an estimated 40,000 neonates die every year from birth asphyxia.

Screening for rural diabetes is also being strengthened with half the 770 PHCs in the State provided semi auto analysers and the remaining too would be given the basic testing equipment. Early detection would strengthen ante natal care and reduce incidence of gestational diabetes during pregnancy, Dr. Padmanabhan said.

Diet counselling

As 90 per cent of gestational diabetes could be managed through diet counselling and lifestyle modification, the government has focused on training doctors and nurses at PHCs and State-run hospitals to manage diabetes and prevent complications. “We aim at a reduction of infant mortality by at least 20 per cent through these measures”.

Dr. Padmanabhan said the Varumun Kappom health camps initiated by Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi pointed to alarming proportion of diabetics–almost 2 lakh patients in a screened population of 60 lakh persons. The number of people with cardio vascular disease was even higher, he said.

The public health director called for information, education, communication campaigns as a preventive strategy because treatment of these non-communicable disease involved a huge drain on resources.

Health Secretary V. K. Subburaj said the WHO predictions about India having the largest population of diabetics in the world by 2010 were coming true, Mr. Subburaj said. Along with diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, kidney-related disorders were also a major concern, he said.

Mr. Subburaj called for patient education campaigns to create sufficient awareness on a preventable disease like diabetes. However, the key is to implement the recommended lifestyle and dietary modification.

Apart from a growing diabetes burden, the increasing incidence of diabetes and cardio vascular disease, even in young children, had forced government hospitals to tie up with private hospitals in a bid to reduce the backlog and wait-lists, he said.

Special cover

Launching the special cover on diabetes prevention, Indira Krishnakumar, principal chief postmaster general, Tamil Nadu Circle, said the postal department was uniquely placed to run the campaign. An estimated 10 lakh inland letters bearing the message of prevention would be available at post offices. It was also proposed to deliver awareness materials through postmen in the next few months.

Vijay Viswanathan, managing director of MV Hospital, said community research surveys launched by the hospital were showing a high incidence of diabetes and cardio vascular disease in the police force in Chennai. The results of the survey are expected in a month or two, he said.

Surveys had also showed a disconcerting incidence of metabolic syndrome and childhood obesity among children in schools in and around Chennai, he said.

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