Merck introduces Dora for diabetes assessment

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Leading pharmaceutical and technology company Merck has launched the only diabetes programme in South Africa that covers risk assessment, diagnosis, and management of the disease. It is called the Diabetes Online Risk Assessment (Dora).

Sandra Lambert, Merck’s regional director for general medicines, says in a Business Day report the assessment begins with screening, where any person with an internet connection can complete a questionnaire to assess whether they are likely to be diabetic or at risk of becoming diabetic. If the assessment reveals them to be at mid-to high-risk, they will be referred to a local pharmacy, where they can have a free blood glucose test.

Should the blood test reveal that they are diabetic, the pharmacy will refer them to a doctor for further diagnosis and treatment. The patients can then return to the pharmacy with treatment advice from their doctors and receive a diabetes “starter pack” to help them manage the disease.

The report says the pack includes Accu-Chek discounted glucometers (provided by Roche), a diabetes-specific multivitamin, a glucometer for the patients to test their own blood readings, a diabetes patient information booklet (including a glycemic index food guide) as well as a free diabetes-management mobile app.

“The Dora programme will assist South Africans at any stage of diabetes,” says Lambert – those who are likely to become diabetic and those who are likely to be diabetic, based on the results of the completed online survey. However, the report says, the programme is aimed at South Africans who are at risk of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 can be managed effectively by making better-informed lifestyle choices.

Research for the programme examined diabetes in Africa in the past 100 years; the Merck team used the insight into diabetes to inform the programme’s design. “The online risk assessment was based on Findisk, a medically published and researched screening questionnaire,” says Lambert.

The report says the Merck team worked with glucometer specialists Roche, and Pick n Pay pharmacies. More pharmacies will be added to the network over time. “This is the only national programme that incorporates disease-screening, testing and management in a single initiative,” Lambert is quoted in the report as saying.

Full Business Day report

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