Courses to help patients cope

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 January, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 January, 2010, 12:00am

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear a hundred battles - that quote from philosopher Sun Tzu could be the principle behind the Hospital Authority's HK$3 million package for rolling out courses that teach patients more about diseases.

Diabetes and hypertension patients treated at hospitals and clinics in the authority's Hong Kong East and New Territories East cluster can join the course from March.

Each cluster has been allocated HK$1.5 million for the Patient Empowerment Programme, which aims to increase patients' understanding of their diseases, according to Dr Margaret Tay, chief manager of integrated care programmes.

Among the things patients will be taught are how to keep healthy, what they should be aware of when checking their blood-glucose level, and how they can improve communication with medical staff.

Patients would suffer from fewer complications if they were more aware of how to take care of themselves. When complications are reduced, demand for medical services also decreases, Tay said.

Two NGOs will join the authority in providing the course to 4,000 patients a year. The bidding process has ended and the authority is evaluating the proposals.

The NGOs follow up on the patients within six months. The lecturers will be nurses, therapists and social workers.

Chu Fung-lin, in her 50s, took part in a pilot scheme of the programme two years ago. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. 'When I saw a doctor in the past, he did not teach me what I should do with my diet,' she said. Chu was also unaware that exercise could improve her condition. After attending the course, she steams meat and fish instead of frying the food, and a one-hour walk is now her daily routine. Her blood-glucose level has dropped significantly and her weight fallen from 66 kilograms to 56kg. She also knows how to obtain blood for a blood-glucose test in a way that causes less pain.

The programme will be expanded to all clusters in three years and will include cardiac and stroke patients.

According to World Health Organisation statistics, one out of 10 people suffers from diabetes, meaning there would be 700,000 patients in Hong Kong. The Hospital Authority serves 500,000 hypertension patients and 270,000 diabetes patients every year, respectively.