With diabetes cases skyrocketing in the state and city, Karnataka urgently needs 8,000 diabetes educators. Currently there are about 400 educators in city, who also counsel patients and their relatives in the rest of the state.
These educators, who are mostly science graduates now working as either nurses, lab technicians, dietitians and social workers; work as a link between doctors and diabetics. Right from counselling patients on insulin techniques, how to test blood sugar, hypoglycemia and its symptoms, etc, the role of educators is deemed key when it comes to diabetes control.
“Once a person is diagnosed as being diabetic, he/she faces depression about his/her condition and anxiety about taking insulin. Doctors have limited time.
Hence, educators are needed to make patients self-reliant and boost their confidence,” says Dr KM Prasanna Kumar, CEO of Bangalore Diabetes Centre.
Deepa Lokhande, an educator in the city, says counselling and confidence building is more important among children who have diabetes. “Since children usually have Type I diabetes that calls for insulin, helping them overcome needle phobia and training them to take their insulin shots is crucial.”
Experts say diabetes care involves at lot of nitty-gritty including right time for taking insulin, specified areas for taking the shots, site rotation, and constant monitoring of sugar levels. “Since it is a life-long problem, patients also have to be well-trained to handle their situations. And for training patients, we need these educators,” says Kumar.
To train more and more diabetes educators, doctors are expanding the educator courses. Kumar says currently there is a six-month educator course followed by an exam, which is approved by the International Diabetes Federation.
“We are planning to roll out this course online so that more people from across the state can participate and get trained as educators,” says Kumar, adding that in a state the size of Karnataka, 400 educators is a very small number.
The online courses could start in one to two months time, and would train and certify professionals as educators. “We are also planning to enroll pharmacists for the course since they too remain in close contact with patients.”