Policy

Screening for diabetes, cancer soon

P. T. Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on January 10, 2011 Published on January 10, 2011

An estimated Rs 1,600-crore initiative to screen people for diabetes, hypertension, heart-related problems, stroke and cancer, besides age-related ailments for senior citizens, is expected to get implemented by April.



An estimated Rs 1,600-crore initiative to screen people for diabetes, hypertension, heart-related problems, stroke and cancer, besides age-related ailments for senior citizens, is expected to get implemented by April.

And setting the stage for this is a meeting of top health administrators, including the Health Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, State-level ministers, secretaries and other officials, in Hyderabad this week.

The final details of this national healthcare initiative, among other issues, will be ironed out at this meet, readying it for implementation by States, besides scale-up of pilot projects into full-fledged programmes as well.

Operational guidelines

Operational guidelines for the initiative, which would cover 100 districts across the country in about 18 months, have been finalised, funds approved and glucometers and strips required for screening diabetes procured from Abbott for the first phase covering 30 districts, Dr Damodar Bachani, Deputy Director General (Non-Communicable Diseases), Directorate General of Health Services, told Business Line.

The initiative seeks to tackle the growing incidence of “silent” diabetes — of the 50 million people in the country estimated to have diabetes, only 12 million are diagnosed and take treatment. The rest are not aware, say healthcare workers.

The initiative received Cabinet approval in July 2010, and involves beefing up the healthcare infrastructure and adding 2,600 trained personnel on the ground. Each district would get about Rs 10-15 crore, he said.

The initiative involves the opportunistic screening of people over 30 years. Anyone in this age-group going to a doctor for a regular illness would be screened for sugar, hypertension, and even assessed for cancer, Dr Bachani said, and added that cancer has about eight warning signals that can be picked up by trained people.

The screening would be done through community healthcare centres, and sub-centres to cover an estimated seven crore people in the target age-group, he said.

Procurement

For the first phase, the Centre has procured 6,000 glucometers and 1.2 crore strips from Abbott at Rs 10.8 crore, through a tender-process, he said.

As the screening is under way, guidelines for the treatment regimen would be put in place, for further procurement of medicines and insulin, he said, adding, it would be “unethical” to screen people and not have them treated.

Another 14,000 glucometers would be procured for the next phase.

To tackle the high cost of cancer diagnosis and treatment, Regional Cancer Centres are being scaled-up and renamed as Tertiary Cancer Centres, with an investment of Rs 6 crore in each centre, funded by the Centre and States.

There are 27 such centres and the plan is to have 65 by March 2012. People would get medicines, chemotherapy, etc., free at these centres, he said.

For the elderly, 10-bedded wards at 100 district centres and eight, 30-bedded wards at medical colleges are being set up exclusively as Regional Geriatric Centres, bringing treatment of age-related ailments under one roof. Integrated guidelines and training to handle the different needs of the elderly are also being put in place, he added.

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Published on January 10, 2011
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