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Govt mulls free insulin for diabetic children

Calcutta, Jan. 21: The government is considering a proposal to distribute insulin free from the medical colleges in the state.

Initially, the priority would be to provide juvenile diabetics with the hormone injection but adults who depend on it would be included in the scheme later, director of medical education C.R. Maity said at Writers’ Buildings today.

Free insulin is now provided to juvenile diabetics from the School of Tropical Medicine in the city.

“Diabetes kills slowly and we are concerned over the way more and more people are suffering from it. We are planning to distribute free insulin from the outpatient departments of the medical colleges in Calcutta, Siliguri, Burdwan and Bankura,” he said.

Out of nearly three crore diabetics in the country, more than 24 lakh are from the state. Juvenile diabetics number around 25,000. “We want to provide the insulin to the juvenile diabetics for free because it is a life-saving drug. If a child suffering from diabetes misses out on his or her shot for a few days, a condition called ketoacidosis sets in. After dehydration and weakness, the child gradually slips into a coma,” said Maity.

He, however, added that there should be a strict monitoring system. The government had received complaints that a section of the guardians was selling off the free insulin that they received for their children.

“In the past, free insulin was supplied from SSKM Hospital but we received complaints that some people were taking the injection for their children and selling it to medicine shops. So, we had to stop the facility,” Maity said.

Three types of insulin — bovine, porcine and human — are available in the market. The insulin extracted from human beings is costliest. A vial of human insulin costs about Rs 150. The porcine insulin is priced around Rs 130 and a vial of bovine insulin costs about Rs 60.

Maity said the government is planning to open special clinics for diabetics at the district, sub-divisional and rural hospitals and to revitalise the existing facilities to provide consultation and counselling.

“We need these clinics because we must educate the people on the misconceptions about the disease. It is wrong notion that consumption of cooked rice and potato aggravates diabetes. It is the total calorie-intake that matters,” Maity added.

Welcoming the government’s move, endocrinologist Debashis Majhi said it will not be much of a burden to provide insulin for free to juvenile diabetics as only about 1 per cent of the total population suffering from the disease is children.

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