Program takes diabetes fight to grassroots level

Updated: 2013-03-25 07:58

By Shan Juan (China Daily)

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A three-year training program has been launched to improve diabetes intervention capacity particularly of medical workers at grassroots level health facilities.

The nationwide China International Medical Foundation project plans to train more than 10,000 medical workers in elements of diabetes care such as screening, treatment and follow-up monitoring.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese Medical Association will provide technical and human resources support.

"Diabetes, a chronic disease, requires lifelong treatment and improved capacity at grassroots level hospitals helps with patients' access to treatment and the quality and efficiency of the care," said Li Hongshan, deputy director of the foundation.

A CDC regional survey in 2010 found that 9.7 percent of adults on the Chinese mainland had a diabetes.

Without good intervention, China is expected to have 40 million more patients by 2030, the International Diabetes Federation estimates.

Decades ago, only about 1 percent of people on the mainland had diabetes, said Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the CDC.

Lifestyle changes such as unhealthy diets where excess fat and sugar are consumed and less physical exercise are the main cause of the huge spread of diabetes, Li said.

He said early detection and proper treatment for patients are necessary to help avert or at least delay serious complications like cardiovascular disease and kidney conditions.

"Treating complications greatly increases medical costs and further strains the nation's medical system," Li warned.

Statistics show that only 22 percent of diabetes cases in China were being treated, and only half of the patients being treated had their blood sugar levels under control.

Because most diabetics take their medication at home, community hospitals or clinics must play a bigger role in diabetes intervention, Liang said.

"But many grassroots medical workers are well enough trained to do that," he pointed out.

"A large hospital-centered health care system on the mainland could hardly meet the challenges of sharply growing chronic diseases like diabetes," he said.

Li echoed the point, stressing the great importance of improving the nation's primary care capacity to better take care of the patients of chronic diseases.

"Our program might serve as a first, small step toward that," he said.

Li said lectures, group discussion, case studies and teleconsultation will be used for the training.

"General practitioners will be the primary target of the program," he added.

(China Daily 03/25/2013 page4)