New York diabetes program still raising controversy

Wed, 01 Feb 2006
The controversial measures in the treatment of diabetes being employed by the New York City Board of Health are causing fresh concern amongst experts in privacy. The program, adopted last month, is mandatory and monitors the city’s blood sugar levels. However, officials are saying that the program is already operating without the permission of the patients.

Patients have no choice in whether to participate in the program. The program, one of the first of its kind for chronic diseases, is being criticised by experts in privacy. They have called the program ‘too intrusive’ and ‘questionable’ under current constitution.

The program, introduced in December, requires laboratories to transmit all Haemoglobin A1c test results to the Department of Health for assessment. Physicians then determine who is keeping their blood sugar levels under control and can intervene if need be. Previous programs have run in America, but only for communicable diseases such as Aids.

In defence of the program, officials from the health department have highlighted the ‘epidemic’ levels of diabetes in the city. They claim that 9 per cent of adults in New York know that they have the disease, but a further 265,000 have the disease but are undiagnosed.

Privacy experts have criticised the program as ‘aggressive’ and lacking any opt-out policy. They claim that the public have been given no say and inadequate information. The debate continues, and only time will tell the effectiveness of the measures.
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