Preliminary findings from a national diabetes screening programme run by the ICPA (Independent Community Pharmacy Association) show a serious cause for concern. In fact, 1 in every 3 of the patients tested were at a high risk of developing diabetes over the next 10 years and a further 50% were at an increased risk. The high risk patients were referred to a doctor, and the “at risk” patients were instructed on the urgent lifestyle changes that they need to implement in order to reduce their risk status.
These findings were drawn from the initial 10 000 screenings that have been captured and are part of a continuing drive by ICPA to collect 100 000 diabetes screenings to assist the National Department of Health (NDOH). This demonstrates the important contribution independent community pharmacy has to make in South Africa’s healthcare industry.
The NDOH has targeted non-communicable (non-infectious) diseases for serous interventions, as it is one of the main causes of death in South Africa, placing a huge burden on the country’s health system. The non-communicable disease burden includes cardio vascular disease with diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and smoking identified as contribution factors.
“ICPA wants to assist government with their focus on these non-communicable diseases (NDCs), and has therefore embarked on a series of campaigns as part of the role pharmacies can play in SA’s healthcare industry,” says Sham Moodley, ICPA Chairperson.
Diabetes has been the most recent campaign ICPA has focused on. With more than 1 200 member pharmacies spread throughout rural, urban and metropolitan South Africa, ICPA has the perfect channel for this purpose.
To launch the campaign ICPA received a generous sponsorship from pharmaceutical company Roche, and participating pharmacies offered free testing from 15 – 19 October. An online data capturing tool was developed with the assistance of international partner Webstar Health and locally by Argility.
Moodley believes that by the end of November, ICPA members will have completed about 50 000 diabetes screenings. With data still flowing into the ICPA by the hour, the initial 10 000 captured test results represent a scientifically significant sample.
Interesting results so far:
- 30% of tested patients were at high risk, 23% at moderate risk and 32% at an increased risk of becoming diabetic within the next 10 years, unless some sort of intervention takes place.
- 17.4% of the patients were immediately referred to their doctor for further assessment.
- 68% of screens had no family history of diabetes.
- Of the 10 000 screens, 68% believed they were not diabetic and 71% believed they did not have hypertension, but we picked up over 800 people with raised blood sugar and 648 people with high blood pressure.
- 65% of all the patients tested were overweight, 13% being severely obese– a very concerning result and the need for serious lifestyle and diet intervention was identified.
- Of the diabetic patients tested, 40% of them had uncontrolled high blood sugar and 10% of the patients with hypertension were uncontrolled and presented with elevated blood pressures. 433 patients who thought they had normal blood pressure were referred to doctors with high blood pressure readings.
“Half of the screenings were done to people under 50 years of age, which is quite significant in the healthcare industry where there is the perception that it’s more senior people that are open to these screenings,” says Sham. “We have not only reached a young market, we also identified 8 700 South Africans who show signs of high risk and need to make the necessary lifestyle changes in their lives to avoid being diagnosed with a non-communicable disease. This is preventative healthcare at its best!”
Sham was recently a guest at the FIP Centennial Congress for Pharmacists in Amsterdam and was encouraged by the response from some of the world’s leading pharmacy practitioners and thought-leaders. “The delegates could not think of a diabetes campaign of this scale happening anywhere in the world,” he says.
“As independent pharmacies, we have clearly illustrated that the role that we play in healthcare stretches way beyond the perception of so-called pill-pushers. In the process, thousands of people will either now receive the necessary treatment or have the opportunity of changing their lifestyles instead of becoming a diabetic or worse, a cardio vascular disease statistic.”
The ICPA is looking forward to continuing with the diabetes screening and data capturing, with similar campaigns around smoking cessation and a hypertension to follow soon.
Sherpa Business Communications
Media enquiries: Amelia de Milander at 021 912 4071, 083 509 1801 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More Info: http://www.icpa.co.za
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