The Centre has asked states to utilise data generated at the district level during screening for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) to identify a priority group that is expected to receive Covid vaccinations early next year: those below the age of 50 with comorbidities, top government sources told The Indian Express.
“The basic document will be the electoral roll, which will provide states with age details of beneficiaries. The states will superimpose this basic document with the NCD screenings that they have conducted. The states can also create their own mechanisms, as health is a subject of the state,” sources said.
Last week, a high-level expert group co-chaired by Dr V K Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, recommended three groups to be simultaneously vaccinated on priority depending on availability of vaccine: 1 crore health care workers; 2 crore frontline workers, including police and armed forces; and, about 27 crore above the age of 50 and those less than 50 years with comorbidities.
Under the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and Stroke (NPCDCS), launched in October 2010, state governments are mandated to undertake population-based screening at the district level for early detection of NCDs. Those who come to healthcare facilities undergo “opportunistic screening” for detection, referral and follow-up for hypertension, diabetes and select cancer categoriess.
So far, official data show, 616 NCD clinics have been set up at the district level and 3,827 at the Community Health Centre (CHC) level, apart from 175 Cardiac Care Units (CCUs) and 214 Day Care Centres for Chemotherapy.
Besides, as part of the Ayushman Bharat initiative, states use a Community-Based Assessment Checklist (CBAC) for universal screening in the 30-plus age category to sensitise and mobilise the community to avail services for chronic illnesses at Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs).
The CBAC is designed to collect details of history of symptoms and includes family history of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and presence of common symptoms for common cancers, epilepsy and respiratory diseases.
In February 2019, the Centre informed Parliament that it had screened 1.30 crore in the 30-plus category for hypertension following which 9.01 lakh were identified as new cases while 22.69 lakh were under treatment. Similarly, the government said it had screened 97.78 lakh for diabetes of which 8.90 lakh were new cases and 12.13 lakh under treatment. For oral cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer, it said that over 1 crore were screened of which 37,768 were new cases and 4,215 under treatment.
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