No relief for diabetes patients
2.5 crore people likely to be affected by heart ailments due to diabetes Nearly 40,000 people lose their limbs every year due to the disease NEW DELHI: "Just the way the interests of 4 crore poor and marginal farmers have been protected by the Union Budget, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram should also have provided some relief to the 4 crore diabetes patients in the country who face the prospect of various serious ailments,' said Delhi Diabetes Research Centre president A. K. Jhingan in his reaction to the Union Budget on Friday. With diabetes likely to lead to heart ailments in about 2.5 crore of these people, renal or kidney failure in about 2 crore of them, loss of vision in about 1.2 crore, and with 40,000 people losing their limbs every year in the country due to gangrene caused by diabetes, Dr. Jhingan said there was a definite need for a fresh look at diabetes awareness, prevention and control. While the Union Government itself had admitted that diabetes had become a cause of national concern, it had done precious little to bring down the prices of drugs, testing equipment and test strips widely used by diabetes patients in the treatment and diagnosis of the disease, he added. Due importance "Just the way funds are allocated year after year for AIDS awareness and control, due importance should also be given for checking the spread of diabetes. But the Budget 2008-09 has remained silent on it,' Dr. Jhingan lamented. Pointing out that the reduction in excise duty allowed through the Union Budget some years ago had still not percolated to the consumers, Dr. Jhingan said a single diabetes test strip still costs over Rs.30 and insulin remains one of the most expensive available medicinal aids. As for the glucometer, he said, the prices still run into over a thousand rupees. "It is an irony that while the Centre provides glucometers free to those who have already lost their legs due to gangrene on account of diabetes, it has not tried to cut the prices so that such situations can be avoided,' he added.