Indian government set to screen population for diabetes

by Mark Benson on September 23, 2012

Indian government set to screen population for diabetes

It has been revealed that the Indian government is currently putting together plans to screen the whole population for diabetes amid signs that it is becoming a major problem. While this is a very adventurous target the fact is that unless governments around the world gain a tighter control of diabetes it has the potential to literally run wild. We will now take a look at the issues facing the Indian government in its quest to try and contain the problem which is diabetes.

India and diabetes

It is difficult to say with great confidence how many of the Indian population are impacted by diabetes but if we look at facts and figures from the medical profession it is certainly a growing problem. It is believed that around 40% of deaths in India can be directly linked to cardiovascular problems and diabetes. This is an absolutely astounding figure and one which would appear to have shocked the Indian authorities into action.

One of the more pressing concerns for the Indian authorities is the fact that many of India’s rural locations do not have ready access to sufficient doctors and medical staff. This has been a problem for some time and despite a number of attempts to encourage more doctors and medical staff to move to the rural areas of India there are specific problems associated with this.

Doctors and rural areas

It will astound many people to learn that one of the key issues doctors have with rural areas in India is the fact that on occasions, especially when patients have died, medical staff have been subjected to physical assault. While there is no doubt that the loss of a loved one can cause the quietest of people to lose their head there is really no excuse for physical attacks and verbal attacks on medical staff. It is therefore no surprise to learn that some doctors are reluctant to spend as much time as they possibly should in the more rural areas of India and this is having an impact upon the diagnosis of conditions such as diabetes.

The Indian government is currently looking at ways of introducing safer and more technologically advanced medical practices in some of the far out regions of the country. This will take some time to push through, it will probably be expensive but the reality is that that will save lives and it will save a significant amount of money in the long run.

Is there an age limit on diabetes in India?

While on average European governments tend to test people over 40 years of age for diabetes there are worrying signs that people in their 30s, 20s and even below are now susceptible to conditions such as diabetes in countries like India. It is difficult to explain with great confidence why diabetes is impacting those in their teens but the reality is that it is happening today. It seems that India, and an array of other countries, are on the verge of a diabetes epidemic which could quite literally reduce life expectancy in some areas of the country.

As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, the investment of a dollar today in diabetes treatment and diabetes testing will be paid back many times over in the future. Perhaps the Indian government is now looking to show the rest of the world the way forward with regards to the fight against diabetes, and an array of other medical conditions, and perhaps now is the time to sit up and take note?

Is population wide screening for diabetes viable elsewhere?

If the Indian government, which has a population many times that of the UK, is able to put together and able to fund a screening programme for diabetes across the whole population than what is stopping the rest of the developed and developing world?

The UK authorities have recently introduced a NHS health check which is catching those with early-stage diabetes, and indeed those at high risk of developing diabetes in the future, and this is certainly having a positive impact upon standards of living and treatment of the condition. However, so far the UK authorities have not been able to put together a countrywide plan of attack for each and every member of the population even though in the opinion of many people this is really the only way forward.

Funding diabetes screening

As we touched on above, a one dollar investment in a diabetes screening programme will be repaid many times over in the future and will ultimately save lives and prevent millions of people from developing diabetes. This is no pie in the sky promise, this is no pie in the sky forecast this is the brutal truth with regards to diabetes and the fact that it needs to be diagnosed as soon as possible for the best treatment results. So who will be brave enough to introduce such a programme?

It would be wrong to say there has been no progress by the UK government, and indeed governments around the world, with regards to diabetes screening and testing but the fact is that millions of people may be living with the condition totally oblivious to the situation. Indeed there are millions of people around the world who will have developed diabetes when if only they had been warned in previous years of the potential high risk of developing the condition it may have been different. They may have been able to make changes to their diet and exercise regime thus avoid developing diabetes type II especially.

Conclusion

While the basic figures associated with diabetes itself are astounding and frightening, with regards to number of people suffering from the condition and possibly in a position to develop the condition in the future, it is also the side-effects which we need to take into account. Cardiovascular problems, blindness, amputation and death are just some of the frightening side-effects of diabetes if it is left untreated and undiagnosed.

It would be relatively expensive to introduce a population screening test in the UK for example but the Indian authorities have certainly broken the mould with their intention to screen the whole population. Will other countries now follow suit?


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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