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Soon, diabetes test for rural masses

To check the lifestyle disease, diabetes, the Union health ministry is considering compulsory blood tests for India’s rural masses, reports Jaya Shroff Bhalla.

delhi Updated: Oct 05, 2009 00:45 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

To check the lifestyle disease, diabetes, the Union health ministry is considering compulsory blood tests for India’s rural masses.

The project, to be launched under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), “will cover the entire rural population above 40 years,” Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said speaking at the Sir Ganga Ram SAARC Diabetes Conference on Sunday.

The need for mandatory testing say experts is because India has the highest number of diabetics in the world and is heading towards a diabetes explosion. World Health Organisation (WHO) research has shown that the disease will affect almost 70 million people by 2015.

The minister has asked the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to design indigenous cheap testing kits to bring down the high testing costs and also look into the feasibility of a public-private partnership mode making the kits.

“We will need to generate funds to the tune of Rs 1,500-1,600 crore in the initial phase,” he said.

“The testing strip and needle will alone cost Rs 30 per head. This is apart from the testing equipment. We need to bring down the costs to Rs 5.”

“The ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists) workers who do routine immunizations can conduct blood sugar tests and maintain records of all diabetics,” said Azad.

The minister said the initiative is an urgent need because symptoms of diabetes are not recognised in villages.

“Eighty one per cent of diabetes can be cured just by taking precautions such as changing food habits, exercising regularly and changing other lifestyle causes,” said Azad.

“Early testing will be a boon for poor as they can check their blood sugar levels by taking these measures if they are better aware of their condition.”