The Pune Diabetic Retinopathy Awareness and Screening Model
Background: Diabetic retinopathy has become a serious public health problem.
Aim: To evolve a reliable and scalable model of diabetic retinopathy screening and awareness usable at the national level.
Setting and Design: Community-based cross-sectional observational study.
Materials and Methods: The model was used in Pune and surrounding districts in 25 locations, between March to November 2014. It involved the local communities to arrange, enrol attendees, and disseminate information about the mission before and after the program. This was done through a women’s self-help group “Tanishka” with over 70,000 volunteer members distributed throughout Maharashtra. Screening was done by telemedicine using an indigenous low-cost portable retinal camera, with a remote reporting capability. All programs were reported by the vernacular press to ensure a force multiplier effect by conveying the message to its entire readership.
Results and Conclusion: A total of 25 programs were held and attended by 2,965 persons. One thousand four hundred and eighteen diabetics patients were screened out of which 193 were found to have retinopathy requiring further investigation and treatment. Repeated press coverage over an extended period ensured high reader uptake. Creating awareness and screening were used simultaneously and to complement each other. Local participation, affordable indigenous technology, and awareness through the press were the three pillars of this model. The model was found to be viable, reliable, reproducible, and scalable. It can be expanded to function at a national level.