UKZN specialist physician scoops multiple 2018 MASEA

2018-06-20 06:01
PHOTO: Department of Health Dr Somasundram Pillay being congratulated by MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and colleagues at KZN Health Department.

PHOTO: Department of Health Dr Somasundram Pillay being congratulated by MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo and colleagues at KZN Health Department.

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UNIVERSITY of KwaZulu-Natal specialist physician, and Head of Firm Internal Medicine at Edendale Hospital, Dr Somasundram Pillay has once again bagged two Minister’s Annual Service Excellence Awards (MASEA) in 2017/18.

In the fifth MASEA, held in Durban ICC recently, Dr Pillay, known by peers and patients as “Soma” walked home with the Minister’s Special Health Recognition Award for his work in improving diabetes care in resource-limited developing world settings and also bagged the second position award in the KZN Doctor of the Year category.

The MASEA are designed to reward and recognise public servants, in the health sector, for delivering above the levels expected in their line of duty—which is saving lives.

“I feel very privileged to have received second position of Doctor of the Year in KZN 2017-18. This is confirmation to myself that my work in improving diabetes care and control in resource-limited settings is being appreciated and acknowledged by the Department of Health,” said an elated Pillay.

Pillay’s research work focuses on methods aimed at improving diabetes care in resource-limited settings which saw Pillay set up the Edendale Hospital diabetes clinic in 2012.

Part of this project was the introduction of a multi-disciplinary team, together with an improved data collection system.

This data collection system entailed a datasheet completed in triplicate for every patient consulted in the clinic, an ink-based stamp that is done by the nursing staff to ensure that every patient has the required vital signs performed, and, finally, a specialised computer programme designed using VB.net and .net technologies with which to capture all demographic, clinical and biochemical patient data. This programme can be used for auditing purposes to improve diabetes control and hence decrease diabetes-related complications.

Results of this study have shown an improvement of diabetes control with these interventions. This serves as a blueprint for other resource-limited clinics in developing world countries to follow.

A previous study looked at the burden of diabetes in KwaZulu-Natal over a five-year period (2010-2014) which has demonstrated that the majority of patients with diabetes in KZN are diagnosed and have their treatment initiated at their local clinic level.

Pillay said more effort needs to be placed both in terms of staff resources and education and equipment to help improve the burden of diabetes. Simple yet effective methods, like the one introduced into EDH diabetes clinic, must be replicated throughout the province, and the country, to help decrease the burden of this deadly disease on patients and the economy of the country.

The rationale behind his diabetes clinic blueprint is that each and every patient is seen in a comprehensive and structured manner and that no important areas for diabetes care is omitted.

“Integral to this approach is ongoing clinician and nurse re-education on the management of diabetes. Patients are consulted in a holistic way. Common areas of error involve omission of examination of patients’ eyes and feet. These areas, amongst others, are emphasized at the clinic so that care is optimal and complications are minimised,” saidDr Pillay.

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