Holistic approach

India-based Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre is all set to launch its first international branch in Oman. Its Chairman and Chief Diabetologist Dr V Mohan talks to Muhammed Nafie about the innovative methods and the comprehensive and holistic approach the centre has adopted in diabetic treatment over the last 40 years.

Can you give us a background on Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialty Centre?

We have been in the field of diabetes for more than 40 years. My father late professor M Viswanathan was a pioneer in diabetes treatment. In 1948, when nobody was specialising in diabetics in India, he started the first diabetic clinic in Stanley Medical College in Chennai. In 1971, he left the government service and wanted to set up a private diabetics centre. I joined him at that time as a medical student helping him establish the first diabetic clinic in India’s private sector. I continued with him for 20 years till I started off my own diabetic centre in 1991 which is now called Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre. Today it has blossomed into an international centre of excellence in diabetes with 15 branches across the South India which includes 12 in the state of Tamil Nadu, two in Hyderabad and one in Pondicherry.

What distinguishes you as a unique diabetes centre?

We are the first to develop diabetes specialty in India and have successfully run diabetes centres for more than 40 years. Ours is a one-stop comprehensive diabetes treatment facility. We have our own treatment protocol and a unique diabetes research centre. I published over 800 research papers on diabetes, which is one of the highest in the world. In addition, we have our own education centre where we train people on diabetes. We have trained more than 500 diabetologists and 5000 physicians in India. We are bringing to Oman. all these expertise and experience.

We have also trained educators, community medicine specialists and nurses, ophthalmologists, podiatrists etc. Ours is a comprehensive approach focusing on treatment, research and training simultaneously. Today we are a WHO collaboration centre for non-communicable diseases and also recognised by International Diabetes Federation (IDF) as a centre for education. We are the only centre in the world recognised both by the WHO and the IDF, a factor testifying to the quality of services we offer. We are affiliated to various American universities. We have also developed our own products such as rice and footwear for diabetic people.

What are the major innovation you have brought into diabetes treatment?

As the pioneer of diabetes treatment, we keep on innovating ourselves. Recently we inaugurated bariatric surgery unit at our centre. Obesity has become a major problem and the treatment normally prescribed for diabetics such as tablets and insulin will again add to the person’s weight, making the treatment more complicated. But through a simple surgery we can treat both obesity and diabetics. We are also doing a lot of community based works to create awareness in the society. We teach people about diet and physical exercise right from the school level. In Chunampet, a suburban area in the south of Chennai devoid of any healthcare facility, we adopted 42 villages. Our diabetes centre there serve around 50,000 people in the villages charging nothing. We have set up a full-fledged van equipped with all sorts of facilities visiting all the 42 villages offering people medical services at their door step. It has been a very successful model which was extensively covered in the international media such as Discovery Channel, BBC, CNN, Lemont newspaper etc.

What are your plans and strategies for Oman?

We are opening our first international branch in Oman. We are bringing to Oman the whole paradigm of diabetes management, diabetes treatment, and research. Initially we are starting with a small team of 10 to 15 people which include two-full time diabetelogists. But right now we are offering almost all services we provide in our centres in India except for some advanced treatment such as a bariatric surgery. We have special protocol written for treatment of diabetes which is followed across our centres and all our labs are also standardised. All the doctors are also trained by us. We picked up some qualified doctors from Oman and got them trained in India. However as we grow we will have surgeons, ophthalmologists, foot specialist, educators, dieticians etc. Quality is the hallmark of our services. We are recognised by College of American Pathologists (CAP) for the quality services. We are also the first ISO 9000 certified diabetes centre. We are focused on diabetes and will stick to that.

Why did you opt for Oman to launch the first international branch?

Why not Oman? Oman is a great country which is fast developing under the wise leadership of His Majesty. According to our pre-launch studies, Oman has a very high prevalence of diabetes and the country requires advanced specialty services in diabetic care. The GCC countries are not big countries in terms of population but the percentage of diabetic people are very high compared to India and the western countries, because of various reasons.

A large number of people form Oman visit our facilities in India. Out of 300,000 people in our electronic record, there are a lot of patients from the GCC countries including Oman. As diabetes treatment requires a lot of follow-ups, it is very difficult for people from here to come to India for follow-up treatments.

In addition, we are interested not only in running our own centre but also in training Omani doctors. I can share with them my expertise and knowledge. Omani doctors can make use of our exhaustive research and training facilities which are currently being utilised by researchers and PhD scholars even from the US. The number of researches we do in a year will exceed what a doctor might do in a life time. Therefore we are looking to develop tie-ups with the Omani Ministry of Health and the medical colleges here to improve the quality of the services.

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