Wednesday, February 28, 2007

UK Sikh Health clinic could provide blueprint

A PIONEERING health support scheme for Leamington's Sikh community is set to be rolled out across the country if it proves successful.

The Apnee Sehat clinic, located at the Sikh Community Centre in Queensway, officially opened for business on Friday (February 16). It has been set up by consultant diabetologist Dr Shirine Boardman - with the help of a £10,000 grant from South Warwickshire Primary Care Trust - and aims to provide the local Asian community with specialist help and advice in managing diabetes-related problems in an environment they feel comfortable with.

The centre is part of a pilot project due to run for one year, during which time researchers from the University of Warwick's Medical School will analyse its effectiveness - with a view to creating permanent clinics across the country in the near future. To date the successful project has been nominated for five national awards by various health service organisations. Project co-ordinator Dr Shirine Boardman said she hoped the unique clinic would dramatically reduce the disproportionately high levels of diabetes, strokes and heart attacks in the south Asian population. "It is very exciting to be able to run a pilot research clinic for diabetes which is tailored to the needs of a community which is disadvantaged by its predisposition to premature diabetes, heart disease, strokes and kidney failure," she said. "Members of the Asian community are six times more likely to get diabetes due to their genetics - but this centre will help promote self-care and will help to empower and keep patients motivated.

Hundreds of local Asian people attended the official launch on Friday, along with councillors, mayors and members of South Warwickshire PCT, which has supported the project from the beginning. Warwick District councillor Balvinder Gill added: "Hospitals are frightening places for this community and signify serious illness. "The community is also shy and they often won’t visit the doctor until it’s too late, not to mention the language problems, which prevent them from expressing their symptoms. "Having this clinic means they will feel relaxed in their own environment."

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