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The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) says in a year-and-a-half, the test to determine whether a person is suffering from diabetes could be available for as little as Rs2.

“Given the fact that India is a known as a diabetes hub, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is taking keen interest in the project. We have been told that it must be completed as early as possible,” ICMR director-general Dr VM Katoch told DNA on the sidelines of his visit to the JJ group of hospitals for inauguratingthe undergraduate student research conference on Thursday.

“At present, the cost of the test is between Rs30 and Rs100. This may not be affordable to the poor. For them, the Rs2 test will be a godsend,” said Katoch. “We are executing the project with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, IIT Kharagpur, and a private pharma player.” He says the project, monitored by senior officials, will be a major breakthrough for India.
Katoch pointed out that the whiff of such an inexpensive test being introduced has already prompted some private players to reduce the cost of their testing kits. Dr Shashank Joshi, vice-president, Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India, was all praise for the initiative.

“Over 60 million Indians suffer from diabetes. Every eight Mumbaikar has the disease. The BMC has already declared diabetes as the number one killer in the city. The ICMR project will bring hope to the poor who avoid tests because of increasing costs,” said Dr Joshi, who is attached to Lilavati hospital. He, however, emphasised that the government must ensure that there is no compromise on quality.

Dr Katoch lamented that such projects which provide impetus to research were far and few. “The charm of innovation is on the wane in medicine. Most top doctors have little to show for research. The few who are involved, abandon it after a few papers are published in journals,” he said. “The ICMR has 30 institutes across India working on creating new affordable healthcare techniques. Within the last two years, we have created 70 innovations. The trials for 20 have already begun.”












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