According to the International Diabetes Federation, Diabetes Mellitus (DM) affects about 8% of the population in Greece and Republic of North Macedonia and 56 million in Europe. Unfortunately, about 46% of people with diabetes are undiagnosed; thus stressing out the importance of prevention and early diagnosis. The vast majority of patients with DM type 1 are adolescences and children. However, middle aged and elderly population are more vulnerable to DM type 2. On the other hand, the WHO recognized Obesity as a global epidemic. More than 16% of the adult population in Europe is obese and 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese. The prevalence of obesity in Greece and Republic of North Macedonia is about 20%. DM and Obesity are metabolic diseases with serious health impact and they both consist CardioVascular risk factors. DM is also a risk factor for developing small and large vessel complications (e.g. nephropathy, heart disease, stroke, peripheral arterial disease).
In the EU, the total costs for DM are over 150 billion €/year (11% of the total health costs). The mean DM related expenditure/person in Greece is about 2,450 and in Republic of North Macedonia is 390 €/year. The majority of the expenditures are due to the treatment of diabetes complications, like end-stage renal failure and dialysis, peripheral arterial disease and amputations, retinopathy, etc. The costs for provision of health care are higher for people living in rural than in urban areas, attributed in part to greater transport costs to reach the health system services.
Unfortunately there are a lot of isolated and deprived communities at the Greece and Republic of North Macedonia areas which have tremendous difficulties to access the public health services. More than 16% of the population of Greece and Republic of North Macedonia hospitalized and about 25% of the population visited a doctor, at least once, last year. In most European countries, the education of the population and also of the health professionals on these diseases has little or no financial support.
Therefore the need of general awareness and education of the population on metabolic diseases with current, comprehensive information is of great importance. The early prevention and diagnosis, as well as the proper health care are essential human rights. Therefore a lot of action should be taking in order for this targeted population to reach to a satisfying standard. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development it is the health itself of a population (more than education or investment), which is the chief determinant of economic development of a region.
It is for this reason that this project was introduced so as to contribute to a significant degree to the general welfare of its regions. By utilizing 3rd and 4th generation GSM services, as well as fast Internet connections, COMETECH will prove to be an exceptionally innovative mean for introducing Continuity of Care to Greek and Republic of North Macedonia health practices.
"Continuity of Care" is a main prerequisite for the unhindered movement of people across borders within the EU. COMETECH project aims to address the problem of inadequate access to the health system services to people who live in isolated communities at Greece and Republic of North Macedonia areas.
The project will establish 4 e-health units -2 in each country- at isolated and deprived communities, collaborated each other, aiming at introducing "Continuity of Care" in the border region between Republic of North Macedonia and Greece. It anticipates contributing to the improvement of health services of both countries in a commonly shared region that has been economically neglected to a substantial degree. The establishment of the e-health units into public service buildings will allow affordable access to medical services within Greece-Republic of North Macedonia cross-border area. These units (equipped by state-of-the-art medical devices, supported by an advanced software application and medical staff) will record data of local people, inform them about environmental and other risk factors, and offer valuable and high quality medical care services.
The records of the citizens using the COMETECH services will be safely and easily accessible by their physicians. The involved public bodies will be encouraged to use COMETECH services as a tool for introducing high quality continuity of health care in their respective regions. COMETECH project offers a great opportunity to improve access and reduce inequalities in terms of health status.