Centre launches pilot project for chronic diseases control


New Delhi : Concerned at the growing number of Indians falling prey to diabetes, heart problems and other chronic ailments, the central government Friday launched a pilot project in six states for their prevention and control and better awareness in the people.

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The Rs.50 million project will be later expanded into the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases and Stroke, Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said Friday.

“In six months’ time, we will conduct a review of the project. We will later expand it into a national programme which will have a budget of Rs.16.5 billion in the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12),” he said at the launch of the project.

Expressing confidence that his ministry would be allocated Rs.1.36 trillion against the Rs.450 billion in the 10th Five Year Plan, Ramadoss said the money was sufficient to undertake several health-related projects.

Elaborating on the need for the programme, he said an estimated 10 percent of adults above 40 suffer from hypertension while about 37 million people have diabetes in the country.

“India is the diabetes capital of the world,” said Ramadoss.

After HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, the focus would be on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, mental health and cancer.

Quoting a study, he said it would be wrong to say that the rural populace does not suffer from such diseases.

An estimated nine to 10 percent of people in rural areas suffer from diabetes, while the figure is 12 percent in urban areas.

With this in view, the government plans to provide cost-free treatment to poor people living in rural areas suffering from diabetes, he said.

Urging community and health workers to come forward to assist the government, Ramadoss said stroke has been an area that has not been looked into. “One percent of all deaths are due to stroke,” he added.

The pilot project will be conducted in Kamrup in Assam, Jalandhar in Punjab, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, Shimoga in Karnataka, Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvanathapuram in Kerala.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the focus should be more on prevention than cure.

“Focussing on prevention is a lot cheaper than cure. But we don’t conduct our lives on this basis,” he said.

He also emphasised on early detection of a health problem, probably when in school.

Apart from prevention and control, the aim is also to educate people about healthy practices like consuming less salt, calories, fat, avoiding stress, tobacco and alcohol and doing more physical activities, he said.