Government launches program for diabetes
PROGRAMS for diabetes patients will be added to 10 townships across five regions, said the Department of Public Health’s non-communicable disease director U Myint Shwe.
The program, which could be in place as early as October, aims to serve current patients, detect the disease early, and direct patients to the appropriate departments or hospitals.
Health staff and midwives will be trained in early detection, glucometer usage and support techniques.
It will be administered under the Package of Essential Non-communicable Disease (PEN) project, which started as a pilot program in Yangon Region’s Hlegu and Hmawbi townships in 2012.
“People don’t notice such diseases because it is different from infectious diseases,” said U Myint Shwe on August 19. “And middle-aged people suffer most from the disease, which affects the country’s workforce. As it is related with the country’s development, we need to do to reduce the rate of the risk factor level in the population.”
The 10 new townships are located in Yangon, Mandalay and Bago regions, Mon State, and Nay Pyi Taw.
“Healthcare service for diabetes is not reaching the village level,” said Department of Public Health program manager U Ko Ko. “One out of every two people in villages could have diabetes based on the results in Hlegu and Hmawbi townships.”
PEN aims to provide early detection and primary healthcare services for noncommunicable diseases, which include diabetes, cancer and related respiratory illnesses in rural areas, he added.
Excessive consumption of cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol, unhealthy lifestyle, and lack of proper physical activity are major factors that affect chronic non-communicable disease, the Department of Health said.
According to a 2014 report from the Myanmar Diabetes Association, 10.5 percent of the population has diabetes and another 19.7pc has pre-diabetes symptoms. Most of those people with diabetes do not know they have it, the study found. More than one-quarter of the population has hypertension and another 5.5pc is obese, the study found.
The death toll due to non-communicable diseases in ASEAN countries was 8.5 million annually, with nearly half of those deaths being premature, according to a 2014 World Health Organization study.
“The main challenge is that noncommunicable diseases are seen not only in urban areas but also in rural areas,” said U Ko Ko. “It is difficult for people in rural areas to get to urban areas for treatment if they suffer from such diseases. Our department will provide medicines and disease diagnosis equipment. If the area is too far from a doctor, the health staff in the region will be trained to give treatment to the patients in the rural area.”
– Translation by Thiri Min Htun