The government of India has decided to make available diabetes screening tests costing just 5 cents across the country. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) says the test to determine whether a person is suffering from diabetes could be available in a year-and-a-half. Whether this program will be launched as part of the National Diabetes Census announced last year is not clear.
“Given the fact that India is a known as a diabetes hub, union (federal) 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,” announced ICMR director-general Dr VM Katoch in Mumbai on May 12, adding the news of such an inexpensive test being introduced has already prompted some pharma companies to rework their pricing policy and reduce the cost of their blood sugar testing kits.
Katoch says the project will be a major breakthrough. “At present, the cost of the test is between around $1.5-2. This may not be affordable to the poor. For them, the $0.05 test will be a godsend,” said Katoch. “We are executing the project with the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, Indian Institute of Technology at Kharagpur, and a private pharmaceutical company.”