03 August 2010
Spot Blood Test For High–Risk People; Data To Help Govt Evolve Better Preventive Steps
Health minister MRK Panneerselvam had announced a door–to–door screening of people during the budget session for prevention and early intervention of the disorder which leads to complications of various organs including the eyes, heart and kidneys. Though there have been a number of studies that indicated the epidemic spread of the disorder, policymakers hope that the comprehensive data will help the government evaluate better prevention measures.
"We will be roping in civic bodies, municipalities and village health workers for screening. After measuring the blood pressure they will evaluate risks for diabetes. The test will be done door–to–door and at public places," said Subburaj. Healthcare workers, he said, have been asked to use the risk score card developed by Chennai–based diabetologist Dr V Mohan, which gives the probability rate based on five variables – age, waist size, familyhistory, exercise habits and job profile.
Scores are awarded against each answer (see box) and a score of 60 or above means a high risk of diabetes. If the score is 60 or more, get a blood test done on the spot. "If the patient has been tested with high sugar levels, they are referred to doctors for counselling and consultation," Subburaj said.
The blood tests will cost Rs 30 per person but the state health department knows, it can effectively reduce cost with the risk score. Dr Mohan says there has been a six–fold increase in diabetes in the city in the past three decades. "Now, nearly 18% of people in Chennai have diabetes. Though we are beginning to see a slowdown in urban areas, the cause for concern is among the urban poor and rural areas. Unlike in the urban areas, these people will not be able to afford treatment," he said.
The state health department is already planning intervention strategies including replacement of a portion of rice with raagi and wheat, and adding gingelly or sunflower oil along with palm oil while offering groceries through the public distribution system. Besides this, they are encouraging people to do their regular exercises through health clubs.