Give incentives to spur diabetics to manage condition

A diabetic patient undergoing dialysis treatment at Kim Keat Dialysis Centre.
A diabetic patient undergoing dialysis treatment at Kim Keat Dialysis Centre. PHOTO: ST FILE

The pernicious effects of diabetes are well known. Recognition of its ill effects and management of the disease, even partially, decrease morbidity significantly ("MOH to wage war on diabetes"; April 14).

Yet, doctors encounter many patients who, faced with a diagnosis of diabetes and the prospects of a lifetime of medication, go into denial and refuse proven treatment.

Promises of self-taken measures to control the disease never come to bear, and they resort to alternative treatments, which often prove ineffectual.

The battle against diabetes starts with education and encouragement, persuasion and dissuasion.

Unlike smoking, where disincentives like high tobacco tariffs and bans on smoking in public spaces work, a war against diabetes works better with incentives - though a disincentive tax on sugar may be of some help.

Financial incentives for the treatment of diabetes already exist through the Community Health Assist and Pioneer Generation schemes.

Even more monetary benefits to patients who control their diabetes better - as monitored through standard set clinical parameters - can induce better patient cooperation.

Insurance premiums should also be unloaded for diabetic patients compliant with lifestyle changes and treatment regimes.

Other positive inventive measures may also follow.

Yik Keng Yeong (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Give incentives to spur diabetics to manage condition'. Subscribe