Dr. V. Mohan is the Chairman and Chief of Diabetology at Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre at Chennai in South India which is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Noncommunicable Diseases Prevention and Control. He is also President and Director of the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation which is an ICMR Centre for Advanced Research on Diabetes.
Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre recently received Rs. 66 crores in series A funding by from investment firm Lok Capital Pvt. Ltd and private equity firm Evolvence India Fund. Medical Dialogues Team recently interviewed the doctor, asking him about his plans and contributions in reducing the burden of diabetes in the country. Read the interview:-
- Why we are calling that is there epidemic of diabetes in flooding our country?
Ans: Whenever the prevalence and incidence of a disease exceeds the expected rate of growth, we call it as an ‘epidemic’. The term ‘epidemic’ was traditionally used in the context of communicable diseases like influenza, cholera, chicken pox etc. Today, the rate of rise of diabetes is so rapid that the term epidemic was used by several world organizations. To give you an example the prevalence of diabetes in cities was only about 2% in 1970s. It gradually rose to 8%, 10%, 12%, 16%, 18% and today in the big metropolitan cities like Chennai and Delhi, it affects 24% of the adult population above 20 years of age. At age 50, the prevalence is almost 40%. In addition, 35% have pre-diabetes which means that 75% of the population has either diabetes or pre-diabetes. This is the reason why we call it as an “epidemic of diabetes”.
- Why Indian’s are more prone to diabetes?
Ans: It has always been felt that there could be some specific genetic factors which Indians have which makes them more prone to diabetes. However, it is unlikely that genes are the main driver of the epidemic, because the same genes were there in the 1970s when the prevalence was 2% and the same genes were present now when the prevalence is over 20% in the big cities. What has changed is the environment. Rapid changes in the life style particularly in physical activity and diet are the most important changes in environment. People have become more sedentary. Earlier they used to do hard manual work. Today they are now mostly doing sedentary jobs. There is also rapid change in the diet of people and this could be another reason why diabetes is increasing so rapidly in our population. For eg., in South India our research has shown that white rice consumption leads to rapid spikes of glucose releasing excessive insulin. This leads eventually to the exhaustion of the beta cells of the pancreas thus leading to diabetes. Stress and depression are additional factors which make people more prone to diabetes.
- Why diabetes is called mother of all diseases?
Ans: Diabetes is called the mother of all diseases because once one has diabetes, one is more prone to develop many other diseases and many other complications. For eg., people with diabetes are more prone to blood pressure, obesity, lipid disorders, heart disease, several types of infections and even several types of cancer. Hence diabetes is called the mother of all diseases.
- Can diabetes be prevented? What things younger generation need to take care of in order to prevent diabetes?
Ans: Yes, diabetes can certainly be prevented. We now have evidence based on studies both in India and abroad, that by 30 minutes walk and eating healthy, diabetes can be prevented in more than one-third of people. Younger generation should know that going back to the basics of life i.e. sleeping on time, eating on time, eating healthy and getting enough physical activity which our forefathers used to do, should be done by them also. This can help to prevent diabetes in those at high risk.
- What you describe as good lifestyle for diabetes prevention & control?
Ans: A good life style for diabetes prevention include eating more vegetables in the diet, cutting down on cereals which are high in glycemic index (like polished white rice or refined wheat) and adding more protein to the diet. The protein can be in the form of vegetable protein like bengal gram, green gram, black gram, soya bean, mushroom, milk etc., or for non-vegetarians in the form of fish, chicken and egg. Cutting down on carbohydrate, and fat intake and increasing protein intake would be considered as a healthy diet. In addition to this, adding at least 30 to 45 minutes brisk walk every day, will be helpful. Doing pranayama, yoga and meditation will also help to control the mind and thus reduce stress.
- Who should treat diabetes?
Ans: Any doctor can treat diabetes as it is such a common disorder. However, all doctors should be trained to treat diabetes well. Treating diabetes needs a team care approach as a lot of diabetes treatment depends on the education that is given and hence physicians, diabetes educators and others should be involved in the treatment of diabetes.
- How Dr. Mohan’s diabetes center is going to contribute to diabetes prevention and control?
Ans: Dr. Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre was established in 1991. Over the years, we have grown to become one of the largest diabetes centres in the world. Currently, there are over 400,000 registered diabetic patients across the 26 centres that we run in India. Our approach has been not only to offer specialized diabetic care but also to contribute to research on diabetes through the sister concern, the Madras Diabetes Research Foundation. We also have Dr. Mohan’s Education Academy which trains doctors in the field of diabetes. Over the years, we have developed our own model of diabetes treatment which has been highly successful. Having set up centres in the South particularly in Tamil Nadu and in Chennai, we now want to expand to other parts of the country as well, and offer our specialized services there.
- You have recent raised fund for Mohan Diabetes center. Kindly elaborate on your expansion plans?
Ans: Yes, we have recently raised funds from private equity for expansion of our centre. We currently have 26 centres. We hope to expand this to 100 centres in the next 3-4 years and become a PAN India brand. We already have our presence in 7 states of India and hope to expand this to other states as well. We have recently started branches in North India at Delhi and Lucknow. We hope to have more centres in the North and slowly go to the East (West Bengal and the North-Eastern states) and eventually to the West as well. There is also a lot more to be done in some of the Southern states where our presence is not there at present.
Read more at Medical Dialogues: Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre receives Rs 66 Cr in Series A funding Lock-Capital and Evolvence India Fund