India to screen 7 crore for diabetes and hypertension

The Public Information Bureau recently issued a release recording Cabinet approval for a national programme to prevent and control cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular risk, and stroke.  “The programme will be implemented in 20,000 Sub-Centres and 700 Community Health Centres (CHCs) in 100 Districts across 15 States/Union Territories by promoting healthy lifestyle through massive health education and mass media efforts at country level, opportunistic screening of persons above the age of 30 years, establishment of Non Communicable Disease (NCD) clinics at community healthcare and district level, development of trained manpower and strengthening of tertiary level health facilities.”

“It is expected to screen over seven crore adult population (30 years & above) for diabetes and hypertension, early diagnosis of NCDs and treatment at early stages. To fill the gap in the health delivery system, about 32,000 health personnel would be trained at various levels to provide opportunistic and targeted screening, diagnosis and management of NCDs,” it says.

Well, sounds good. Though Vikas Dandekar of pharmasia news (whose tweet sent me to this release) thinks it may lack commitment. I for one, am surprised we even got this far. I recall the first time I wrote about India’s dual burden of communicable or infectious and non-communicable diseases with my colleague Jeetha D’Silva at The Economic Times was in the year 2002 using WHO data.

I got an extract of that article from the Internet and here’s what we said : “The chickens are coming home to roost. The first-ever global analysis of disease burden due to cardiovascular risks, conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), shows the burden is getting heavy in the developing world.The WHO says that while tobacco, blood pressure and cholesterol have been leading risks in the developed world, they now feature prominently in middle income countries and are beginning to show up in poorer developing countries as well. The analysis is part of the World Health Report which is to be released at the end of this month. The thrust of the analysis is that cardiovascular disease is no longer a “western” problem.”

That WHO report was probably not the the first warning either.

Of course, am happy that government is beginning to addresss the problem in what appears to be a cohesive, structured manner.  It isn’t too late – provided we don’t take the next ten years to begin implementing the programme.


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