People with diabetes are at up to 50% higher risk of a fatal outcome and severe health complications due to COVID-19

Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Jaipur have shown a dip in HbA1c levels in the last two years

The average HbA1C level – the best indicator of a patient’s long-term blood sugar control, stood at 8.48% , registering a marginal improvement over the last year

A report by Novo Nordisk, an Educational Foundation studying and researching Diabetes Management and the Impact of Diabetes in India has some serious observations to reveal. 

The Impact India – 1000-day challenge is aimed at spreading awareness on efficient diabetes management and an ambition to reduce the national average HbA1c in collaboration with Government, doctors, diabetes care practitioners, associations, and other stakeholders

In the run-up to World Diabetes Day, the Novo Nordisk Education Foundation today unveiled the second-year report of its Impact India: 1000-Day Challenge’ program. The program was launched two years ago with an ambition of reducing the HbA1c levels of people with diabetes in India by 1% over the next 1000 days, thereby reducing the risk of complications and the economic burden associated with diabetes. Encouraged by the government’s ground-breaking health care initiatives like Ayushman Bharat and the availability of real-time data from digital platforms, this program further strengthens Novo Nordisk’s belief that it is now possible to fight the battle against diabetes.

According to the report, the average HbA1c level of the country was recorded at 8.48% from October 2019 to September 2020. Though the average HbA1C level has decreased marginally compared to last year’s figures, the prevailing high HbA1c levels is a matter of deep concern especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic which puts people with uncontrolled diabetes at a higher risk of a fatal outcome and serious health complications. The data collection exercise for the iDCI was conducted across 30 Indian cities. The average respondent age was 55 years, of which 57% were males and 43% female.

At present, more than 77 million people are living with diabetes in India and country’s annual spend is approximately INR 64,500 crores on diabetes related healthcare which is further expected to increase if diabetes is not controlled. HbA1c is the best recommended indicator of long-term blood sugar control and gives average blood sugar control for 3 months.

The second-year report was launched in the presence of Mr Vikrant Shrotriya, Trustee, Novo Nordisk Education Foundation, Prof. Dr A.K. Das, Professor of Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences, Puducherry and Patron of the Impact India program, Shri Sachin Kumar Singh, CEO, Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana (PMBJP), Department of Pharmaceuticals, Govt. of India and H.E. Freddy Svane, the Danish Ambassador in  India.

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Amidst these COVID-19 pandemic times, a few cities have shown a drop in their HbA1c levels from Jan-June 2018 to July-Sep 2020. These include Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Jaipur but the majority of Indian cities have seen an upsurge in HbA1c levels.

  • In South India, Hyderabad HbA1c levels have dropped from 8.64% to 8.02 % (down by 0.62%) in 24 months.
  • In the East, Kolkata registered a drop from 8.24% to 7.96% (down by 0.28%) in the same period.
  • Jaipur in North India has notched a dip from 8.30% to 8.01% (down by 0.29%) in the same period.

Speaking about the program, Dr A.K. Das, Professor of Medicine, Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences and Patron of the IMPACT India program, shared, “For the last two years, Impact India  has striven to create awareness on the ‘Indian Reality’ of diabetes management. We have created a scientific framework as a part of our train-the-trainer approach through which 3311 doctors have been reached via 180 Impact Workshops across 150+ cities so far. We are hopeful that the program will continue to empower thousands of Indians on successful diabetes management.”

Mr Vikrant Shrotriya, Trustee, Novo Nordisk Education Foundation, said, “We have worked towards managing diabetes for nearly 100 years at Novo Nordisk. The “Impact India: 1000-Day Challenge” Program is a unique initiative focused at educating and improving the lives of people with diabetes  We believe that our real competition is with the uncontrolled growth in diabetes, lack of awareness, and restricted access to medicines. So, we will continue partnering with stakeholders including healthcare professionals, professional associations, and government bodies to overcome these obstacles. We are happy that cities like Hyderabad, Jaipur and Kolkata are showing a decline in their HbA1c levels over the last two years, and are hopeful that by next year, many more Indian cities will report similar dips.”

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Mr Sachin Kumar Singh, IRS, CEO of BPPI, Department of Pharmaceuticals advised that “The Government of India has made adequate provisions for all known/ diagnosed people with diabetes to receive a regular supply of prescribed medicines. The data generated under the IMPACT India program will be useful in identifying the trend in HbA1c levels across major cities in India.  We congratulate Novo Nordisk Education Foundation for developing a tool through which policymakers and doctors can analyze the trends and accordingly prepare the right medical approach and policies for diabetics in India. “

H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador of Denmark to India, mentioned, “Novo Nordisk Education Foundation has been doing an admirable work in the field of diabetes awareness in India.  I congratulate everyone who has contributed towards the “Impact India: The 1000-Day Challenge” Program, second year running. The positive difference that this program has made in the lives of diabetics in India is commendable.”

Former Indian Cricketer and Brand Ambassador, Novo Nordisk India, Anil Kumble said, “As a sportsperson, I have learned that a healthy exercise routine goes a long way in staying physically and mentally fit. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to stay home for prolonged periods of time, barring us from performing outdoor sports or other exercises. However, indoor exercises are as beneficial as their outdoor counterparts. Practices like Yoga, Pilates and brisk walking are useful in keeping blood glucose levels down in people with diabetes. The iDCI findings concretely demonstrate that diabetes can be controlled even under a lockdown if diabetics in India are to follow a balanced exercise regimen.”

Dr. Banshi Saboo, President, Research Society for the Study of Diabetes in India (RSSDI) informed, “The high level of HbA1c in diabetics in India is deeply concerning. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic influence on the physical and mental well being of people. Under such a scenario, staying fit through physical exercises becomes critical for effective management of diabetes. In our pursuit to encourage people to stay healthy, we have partnered with Novo Nordisk to bring the second edition of Pedals Changing Diabetes. The 5K Virtual Run & Cyclothon urges people to take up running or cycling as a fun way to keep fit and manage their diabetes. We look forward to participation from people across the country in the Pedals Changing Diabetes program as this will help in raising awareness around the disease and its management.”

iDCI (Indian Diabetes Care Index) was introduced in the year 2018 as part of the program to improve diabetes care in the country. Based on big data analytics, iDCI has been providing a real-time view of the average HbA1c in India, a key indicator of the state of diabetes control across select cities.  Under the Impact India program, digital platforms are also being leveraged to partner with practitioners (doctors and paramedics) to evolve and implement an approach to diabetes care appropriate to India. iDCI is a dynamic tool that not only tracks the status of diabetes care but also helps to increase awareness, motivate, and sensitize healthcare professionals (HCPs) and society towards better diabetes management.

The last two years of the program has seen significant contributions from healthcare practitioners (HCPs), and people living with diabetes from across the country. There has been an improving trend in the iDCI results since its inception, and this will lead to a reduction in the future burden of diabetes-related complications in India.

Diabetics In India Face Heightened Risk - Novo Nordisk
            HbA1C levels recorded Between July-September 2020

About Novo Nordisk Education Foundation

The Novo Nordisk Education Foundation (NNEF) was founded in 1997 with a mission to “enhance healthcare through awareness and education” NNEF drives several projects including the Changing Diabetes® Barometer, Changing Diabetes® in Children program and World Diabetes Day awareness activities in partnership with state governments and other key stakeholders.

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