Free diabetes supplies could improve health outcomes in India

Jack Woodfield
Wed, 21 Mar 2018
Free diabetes supplies could improve health outcomes in India
Providing free blood test strips and insulin to poorer families in India has been shown to improve diabetes management and knowledge, according to a study.

In India treating diabetes effectively is quite expensive, so researchers wanted to investigate how blood sugar levels and knowledge about the condition was affected if the cost element was removed.

A total of 85 children aged 13 years old, on average, from low- and middle-income families were given free diabetes supplies for a year. On top of that for the last six months of the study a diabetes nurse educator rang half of the participants every two weeks.

By the end of the trial, the researchers found significant improvements in the patients' HbA1c levels and their understanding of their condition had also increased, even at the six month mark, despite only receiving standard care.

The researchers said the findings suggest increasing the frequency of self-monitoring has improved the participants' awareness of their condition.

Those who received the phone calls from the diabetes expert also showed signs of improved knowledge compared to those who were not contacted. But there was no difference in blood sugar levels between these two groups.

Lead researcher Professor Vijayalakshmi Bhatia, professor at Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute of Medical Sciences in Lucknow, India, said: "Paucity of financial resources may result in inadequate spending on diabetes, which in turn can have an adverse effect on healthcare outcomes.

"Policymakers can infer from this preliminary study that provision of free supplies will pay short-term (and possibly long-term via improved knowledge) dividends in improving the health of children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes from low- and lower-middle-income families in a developing country."

The findings were presented at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society which took place in Chicago.
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