Roving diabetes health bus a new tool in fight against diabetes

The Diabetes Health Bus launched by the NKF on June 25, 2016.
The Diabetes Health Bus launched by the NKF on June 25, 2016.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN
The Diabetes Health Bus launched by the NKF on June 25, 2016.
The Diabetes Health Bus launched by the NKF on June 25, 2016.ST PHOTO: AUDREY TAN

SINGAPORE - A new tool to help the Republic better wage war against diabetes was launched by the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) on Saturday (June 25) morning.

It is a roving diabetes health bus, staffed by NKF nurses, and which will be making rounds to NKF's partner clinics to screen diabetic individuals and help them manage their condition. Nurses will conduct blood tests and dieticians on board will recommend diet and exercise regimes for patients.

This is part of the NKF's strategy to curb the onset of kidney failure, which diabetes is a precursor to. Regular screening of diabetic patients can prevent their condition from deteriorating and resulting in kidney failure, NKF said.

The Diabetes Health Bus has been making its rounds since February but was officially launched on Saturday to mark the opening of NKF's new dialysis centre at Kolam Ayer - one of the foundation's 30 centres. The event was graced by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information and an MP for the area.

Of the 53 diabetic patients from the three partner clinics screened by the NKF so far, 38 did not have good control over their condition. Of this group, two in five eventually developed proteinuria, a symptom of chronic kidney disease that could result in complete kidney failure, called end-stage renal disease. Should the patient's condition reach this stage, a kidney transplant, or dialysis, is required.

But the Diabetes Health Bus has shown promising results so far. About 60 per cent of returning patients managed to maintain or improve their proteinuria results.

NKF chairman Koh Poh Tiong said: "One in three known diabetics does not do enough to control the condition. Diabetes, being the leading cause of kidney failure, can be prevented or controlled, if diagnosed and treated early."

The bus is the first of four costing a total of $2 million. The money is sponsored by the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, which also donated $2.3 million towards the new Kolam Ayer dialysis centre. The other three buses will be rolled out by 2018.

Diabetic patient Haji Saad, 63, was one of those who went for screening on the bus. "After attending the counselling, I realise how serious diabetes and kidney disease are and am more motivated to protect my health by better managing my condition, like complying with medication and adopting a healthier lifestyle," he said.