To discourage people with hypertension and diabetes from visiting government hospitals amid rising cases of COVID-19, the Health department is delivering medicines at their doorsteps.
Doctors and officials have stressed that COVID-19 patients with co-morbidities are at higher risk of developing complications. The elderly and those with co-morbidities have been advised to stay indoors. Besides, during the lockdown from March 23 to May 31, people found it hard to get medicines as transportation also come to a halt.
Officials from the Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare wing said they initiated the process of delivering medicines at the doorstep of patients from March year when coronavirus cases had started to emerge in Telangana.
Under Non Communicable Disease (NCD) screening programme last year, 1.1 crore adults were screened for the two diseases. Of them, around 10.98 lakh with hypertension and 5.50 lakh with diabetes were diagnosed, and receiving treatment in both public and private healthcare facilities.
After initial screening of people above the age of 30 years by Auxiliary Nursing Midwives (ANMs), if abnormal blood pressure or blood sugar levels are recorded, the person is referred to Primary Health Centre (PHC) medical officer who conducts another round of diagnosis to confirm the readings. If abnormalities are recorded, the patient is put on treatment.
Till mid-2019, medicines for NCD were distributed to patients on a monthly basis at Primary Health Centres (PHC).Thereafter, the distribution process was decentralised in Telangana, under the India Hypertension Control Initiative.
Refilling drugs was shifted to sub-centres through ANMs so that patients, especially the elderly who constitute a majority of the patients, don’t have to travel long distances to reach a PHC for the medicines or check-ups.
If the readings were not abnormal during subsequent check-ups, medicines were issued based on prescription issued by PHC Medical officer. Officials said they issued treatment booklets with details of blood pressure or blood sugar readings, medicines issued, etc. However, if ANMs recorded abnormal readings during the subsequent check-ups, the patients were again referred to the PHC medical officer who further examined and escalated the drugs, if necessary.
However, after imposition of lockdown, patients were unable to travel to get medicines. “So, a decision was taken to deliver drugs on a monthly basis by the ANMs to their doorstep. The number of diabetes and hypertension patients receiving treatment in the government sector was 6.5 lakh in March which increased to 8.27 lakh in April and was estimated to be around 8.7 lakh for May 2020,” Health officials said.
As ANMs go door to door to deliver medicines, they are provided masks, face shields and gloves.