Australia’s new diabetes strategy targets priority groups

A new national plan for tackling the crisis was released on Sunday.

It is hoped the plan will help guide the health response to the “silent pandemic” over the coming decade.

“As a nation, we’ve been very pre-occupied with the impact and risks of COVID – meanwhile the serious impacts of the growing diabetes epidemic have continued,” Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson said.

Diabetes is one of the most significant challenges currently facing Australia’s health system.

Thousands of undiagnosed cases 

The federal government’s National Diabetes Strategy 2021-2030 outlines key areas, including prevention, early detection, management and care that must be addressed more urgently in the coming decade.

The strategy aims to reduce the incidence and impact of the disease, particularly on groups overrepresented in the data. 

“Diabetes has a significant, and often preventable, impact on the health and wellbeing of the Australian population,” the strategy document said.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience a disproportionate share of the burden of diabetes.

“There are several other groups for whom efforts should be prioritised due to their high risk of diabetes. These include people from South Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Oceania (excluding Australia), and southern and eastern Europe.”

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More than 1.4 million people living with known, diagnosed diabetes are registered with the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

In addition, there are an estimated 500,000 Australians with silent, undiagnosed type two diabetes.

Two million more have pre-diabetes and are at high risk of developing type two diabetes in the coming years.

“We are pleased the new strategy highlights key issues that require special attention, including diabetes in aged care, prevention of type two diabetes, and diabetes in First Nations communities,” Prof Johnson said.

Up to 20 per cent of Australia’s aged care residents suffer from diabetes, with many not getting the specialised care they need.

Education programs needed to prevent and delay diabetes onset 

Prof Johnson said 58 per cent of type two diabetes cases can be prevented or delayed and education programs were urgently needed.

“Diabetes is particularly devastating for First Nations Australians and communities and it is a major contributor to the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians,” he said.

“The gap is not closing and we hope the new strategy will guide important steps and stronger action.”

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Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt released the plan on World Diabetes Day.

November 14 also marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, one of the most important findings in medical history.

Insulin has changed the lives of people living with diabetes and saved millions of lives across the globe.

Before insulin, children with type one diabetes often didn’t live past the age of five.

Modern day insulins come in a vast variety of formats that are tightly tailored to the individual requiring treatment by diabetes experts.

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