Ethical qualms while treating diabetes in low-resource areas

Gajanan Phutke , Sushil Patil, Yogesh Jain

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2020.019


Diabetes care in low-resource rural areas is often compromised by access and finance barriers, leading to ethical dilemmas for physicians in diagnosis and treatment. Rural health workers should be educated on how poverty, disproportionate rural health infrastructure, and illiteracy impact diabetes care to facilitate a paradigm shift from blaming patients for poor adherence to improving health systems in order to address underlying structural care seeking barriers of cost, distance and social stigma. With these barriers urban, high resource protocols cannot be implemented and there is need for separate evidence-based protocols for rural, low resource populations. Having such set protocols coupled with continuous training and use of mobile/telemedicine technology could help shifting tasks to nurses and peripheral health workers. The National Programme For Prevention And Control Of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases & Stroke may benefit from this communitising care model by setting up PHC-level NCD clinics run by trained nurses and health workers with physician backup using technology as needed. This way of utilizing non-physician health workers to treat uncomplicated diabetes patients may not only allow physicians quality time and more resources to treat complicated diabetes patients but also provide good quality, accessible care within everyone’s reach.

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