Background: Screening for diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes in resource-poor settings requires efficiency. To make the best use of resources, we proposed a selective diabetes screening protocol for patients in rural Panama as a cost-effective solution for diabetes screening in resource-limited settings. We proposed to screen adults aged 35 years or above and pregnant women of all ages.

Methods: Patients that attended a three-day clinic in Bocas del Toro, Panama established by the non-for-profit organization Floating Doctors were screened for non-fasting blood glucose levels. The proposed selective diabetes screening protocol was applied to determine whether it identified patients that were diabetic or prediabetic. Criteria for diabetes and prediabetes were based on existing American Diabetes Association guidelines: patients with a non-fasting blood glucose concentration of ≥200 mg/dl were considered diabetic and patients with a non-fasting blood glucose concentration of ≥140 mg/dl but < 200 mg/dl were considered prediabetic.

Results: Of 84 patients that attended clinic, 2 were diabetic (2.3%) and 55 were prediabetic (65.5%). The sub-group of 41 patients (48.8%) met the selective screening protocol criteria of being at or above the age of 35 years and/or pregnant. This group included 2 patients that screened positive for diabetes (4.9%) and consisted of 16 patients with prediabetes (39.0%). The group excluded by the proposed protocol (51.2%) consisted of no patients with diabetes and 17 with prediabetes (39.5%).

Conclusion: The proposed selective diabetes screening protocol effectively identified all patients with diabetes but only about half the patients with prediabetes, suggesting this protocol may have utility in diagnosing diabetes for treatment purposes. However, because a significant number of prediabetic individuals were excluded, other strategies are necessary for preventative efforts.


K.A. Cabrera: None. A. Pendi: None. N. Lashkari: None. E. El-Tobgy: None. B.B. LaBrot: None.

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