Diabetes, which is commonly known as ‘the sugar disease is a condition that impacts the way our body produces or utilizes insulin hormone. The insulin hormone works like a fuel to the body as it converts food into energy. Any kind of abnormality in the amount of insulin eventually results in increased blood sugar levels and can lead to serious health consequences such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, etc.
Diabetes is a chronic and serious health condition that works as a catalyst for developing other health issues. Diabetes is termed as the ‘silent killer since it often goes undetected until it has caused serious health problems.
Unfortunately, India is considered the ‘diabetic capital’ of the world. The diabetic population in India is predicted to reach more than 80 million by the year 2030. The rising number of patients having diabetes mellitus in India is a significant cause for worry, especially since it contributes to the huge healthcare burden on the country.
With a staggering figure of more than 1 billion patients suffering from diabetes, the risk of mortality almost doubles. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenses almost two and a half times higher than what would be in the absence of diabetes.
With the theme of ‘Access to Diabetes Care’ on this year’s World Diabetes Day (observed on 14 November), healthcare providers need to aim towards accessibility and affordability of diabetes care. India needs to go through a mindset shift from curative to promotive and preventive healthcare that can eventually reduce the huge individual out-of-pocket expenditure that goes into the treatment.
To really take a step forward towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030, India needs to put forward continuous efforts in terms of raising awareness and bringing in rapidly growing technologies for managing and monitoring any disease, especially chronic diseases like Diabetes.
The study, titled ‘Variation in health system performance for managing diabetes among states in India: a cross-sectional study of individuals aged 15 to 49 years, and conducted by the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF), Chennai, and the Harvard School of Public Health with other international organizations, shows, about one in every two Indians (47%) living with diabetes is unaware of their condition, and unfortunately only about 24% people manage to bring it under control.
People need to understand that although COVID is not at its peak now, ignoring, or missing vaccinations can lead to the development of other comorbidities. Especially people become vulnerable to several health conditions as they age. Approved and authorized COVID-19 vaccines such as Sputnik V, Covidshield or Covaxin are safe and effective. Although the Government has not mandated the booster shots yet, people should realize the necessity of vaccines and voluntarily come forward for administering the booster shots so that India can reduce the disease burden in the long run.
Diabetes is a condition that cannot be cured, but with consistent management and monitoring, it can be controlled. In today’s time, with the blessings of evolving digital health technology, there has been a fundamental shift in the way people manage their health and access medical care. With the rise of wearable technologies, medical devices are now becoming even more convenient and affordable, helping countries to move a step closer to equitable access to healthcare.
To improve the quality of care for the end-users, these devices are getting better by helping to monitor a patient’s health 24/7, fetching and storing the clinical records of the patients, and providing real-and time feedback to doctors. Talking about lifestyle diseases, diabetes is one such key area where India has recently been witnessing advancement in remote care, thanks to the booming MedTech industry in India for continuously researching and manufacturing these devices which are optimal for self-management.
With more of public-private partnerships and collaborative efforts, Diabetes management can be made accessible, affordable, and seamless. Every stakeholder in the healthcare ecosystem of India – healthcare leaders, physicians, academia, and public health experts should continuously reiterate the importance of regular health screening, choosing a conscious lifestyle by leveraging the privilege of evolving technologies and smart devices that makes the monitoring and management of any disease easier and even can save many lives by indicating certain alarming symptoms in advance.
The author is a the HOD of Deptt of Endocrinology, Marengo CIMS Hospital. Views expressed are personal.
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