Better labs to treat celiac disease soon, says Dikshit

Food testing laboratories will be upgraded and import tax of around 15 per cent on gluten-free products will also be reduced to ensure better treatment of celiac disease in Delhi, announced Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit at a seminar on Sunday. 

 

Doctors from the celiac society of Delhi had organised a seminar to create awareness and sensitise Delhi government doctors about celiac disease. Doctors claim celiac is emerging as a hidden epidemic. Celiac disease is a condition caused by gluten allergy in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged, preventing it from absorbing food essential for staying healthy. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and oats.

Doctors, participating in the seminar, represented varied disciplines, including internal medicine, paediatrics, gastroenterology, endocrinology, gynaecology and pathology.Doctors presented a wish list to the government officials at this seminar for better treatment of the disease.

“The list comprises of four basic amenities — inclusion of mandatory tests for celiac among school children under the Chacha Nehru Health scheme, creating more awareness about this silent disease, setting up laboratories that can certify locally produced gluten-free products and duty free import of gluten-free food from other countries,” said Dr Anupam Sibal group medical director of the Apollo hospitals, Delhi.

“About one person in 100 is estimated to suffer from celiac disease and 97 per cent of cases are not diagnosed. Anaemia, malnourishment and diarrhoea are three public health issues being tackled by the government. All of these are symptoms of celiac disease and it is imperative to ascertain the number of children malnourished or suffering from anaemia or diarrhoea due to this disease,” said Ishi Khosla, president, celiac society of Delhi.

Doctors suggest that up to 40 per cent of individuals with celiac disease may lack typical symptoms such as diarrhoea. Constipation, abdominal pain, anaemia and short stature can be pointers of celiac disease. “Community awareness is critical because if you do not know about it, you will not think about it or look for it. In recent years, gluten-free dietary options in North India have increased and the public must be made aware of such options,” said Dr Sarath Gopalan, senior paediatrician, PSRI hospital and Indraprastha Apollo hospitals.

Anshu Prakash, Delhi health secretary, was the guest of honour, Ramakant Goswami, minister of industries, labour and elections were also present at the event. At the end of the seminar, Anshu Prakash, assured that immediate action will be taken. “We will strengthen the testing facilities at all hospitals and take suspect cases from schools. As rightly said this is a matter of survival for many children and adults,” he said.   

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