How Tamil Nadu is isolating, eliminating chronic ailments using door-to-door screening

The World Health Organisation recently profiled Tamil Nadu’s ‘Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam’ scheme that takes health services to the doorsteps of people

Updated - June 17, 2023 08:41 am IST

Published - June 16, 2023 11:40 am IST

Aid at home.

Aid at home.

Tamil Nadu’s “Makkalai Thedi Maruthuvam” (MTM), a scheme that takes health services to the doorsteps of people, may be a step in the right direction in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCD). Profiled recently by the WHO for its outreach efforts, health officials in the State claim to have set their focus on doing better, in terms of identification of silent hypertension or diabetes, to ensure proper drug dispensation, to address gaps and promote preventive health measures.

As per data put out by the Health Department, 1,00,51,661 persons were covered for first-time services and 3,04,71,86 persons under repeat services under MTM since its launch in August 2021.

“COVID-19 was one of the triggers for starting this intervention as patients with co-morbidities had higher mortality compared to those with no co-morbidity. So, to bring down mortality, it became essential to control co-morbidities,” T.S. Selvavinayagam, Director of Public Health (DPH) and Preventive Medicine, said.

“Unfortunately, with restrictions and lockdowns, people were not able to come or were not willing to come due to fear of COVID-19. So that is the point where we activated our system to deliver drugs for NCDs to the doorstep under MTM.”

Drawn up on a door-to-door screening model, the scheme aims at enabling early identification of diseases. “We are asking our women health volunteers to visit every household. So the first focus is to identify cases of silent hypertension or diabetes. Second, we should ensure that medications are provided to those identified. We want to review our works and identify/address gaps. Persons identified should get medication kits so that disease progression can be prevented,” Health Secretary Gagandeep Singh Bedi said.

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Dr. Selvavinayagam observed that prevention of risk factors is the ultimate objective, he said, adding: “We need to modify our lifestyle, maintain healthy body weight, reduce salt and oil, add more vegetables and fruits, active exercise, concentrate on nutrition and reduce stress at all levels. These are the few things that we need to do, starting with children.”

Mr. Bedi noted that educating the community on lifestyle changes was important for prevention. Aptly, health walks is one of the key announcements made this year,” he said. The Health department also plans to hold special camps for adolescents for detecting anaemia and measuring Body Mass Index, the DPH said.

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