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New device means diabetic patients no longer have to keep checking sugar levels

  • The flash system, which controls the level of glucose in the blood, is already used by children and is now to be extended to adults

People with Type 1 diabetes have to prick their finger up to eight times a day to check their blood sugar levels. To make life easier for them, the regional government's ministry of Health has decided to provide them with the flash glucose monitoring system, which until now has only been provided for children with Type 1 diabetes.

The device is implanted in the skin of the arm and shows the blood glucose level, without the need to check by pricking a finger. Having seen the good results of the flash system in children and teenagers, the ministry has decided to extend it to adults in Andalucía with Type 1 diabetes; this is about 30,000 people, of whom around 6,000 are in Malaga province.

This expansion will begin with people at risk of clinical and functional vulnerability, including those with a disability, pregnant women and patients with frequent hypoglycemia. At present more than 460 children in Malaga province are benefiting from this system, which was introduced into the Andalusian health service in April together with the combined pump-sensor system.

The director of the integral diabetes plan, María Asunción Martínez Brocca, says this system has a direct impact on the quality of life of children with diabetes and their families, by giving them more complete and continual information about blood glucose levels all through the day.

Diabetes affects more than a million people in Andalucía, of whom 630,000 have been diagnosed. To reduce the incidence of this metabolic disorder, the number of complications and the impact of diabetes, and to improve patients' lives, the health service set up the Integral Diabetes Plan for the region, which is now in its third edition.

Speaking on World Diabetes Day, María Asunción Martínez Brocca explained the results of the screening programme for diabetic retinopathy, which this year has received double recognition, internationally as well as in Spain. It has been distinguished by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Spanish ministry for Health.

During the 13 years the screening has been taking place, 820,000 retinographies have been carried out, which covers 90 per cent of the target population, and 49,000 cases of diabetic retinopathy have been detected. These have been evaluated and treated early by ophthalmology teams, with the aim of preventing visual disability and reducing the incidence of blindness caused by diabetes in Andalucía.

Diabetic retinopathy is characterised by different lesions which affect the retina (hemorrhages, albumin exudates, edema and other vascular alterations).