More needs to be done to stem the tide of diabetes in Canada

by Barbara Hewitt on December 14, 2015

Urgent government action is needed to address gaps in the care and resources available to people with diabetes in Canada in the face of a rapidly growing prevalence rate for the disease.

The latest overview report from the Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) points out that the number of Canadians living with diabetes has more than doubled since 2000 and will grow by another 40% by 2025.

Canadian FlagIt adds that more than 10 million Canadian children and adults have diabetes or prediabetes and almost another million are living with type 2 diabetes but don’t know it as they have not yet been diagnosed.

The CDA has identified key areas for action and recommends government intervention, which includes preventing amputations, eliminating stigma and discrimination against people with diabetes and improving support at school for children with diabetes.

In a Diabetes Charter for Canada, it outlines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders, including people with diabetes, and establishes guiding principles meant to serve as a catalyst for change to ensure that people with diabetes can live to their full potential.

“There are gaps we need to address so people living with diabetes and those who may be at risk for type 2 diabetes can access the care and support they need to live the healthiest lives possible,” said CDA president and chief executive officer Rick Blickstead.

Key findings in the report include the fact that the prevalence of diabetes, its complications and some modifiable risk factors, for example being overweight, obesity, and tobacco use, are disproportionately higher in some ethnic communities.

It also says that support is needed to address stigma about diabetes and mental health issues among people with diabetes, as 33% of Canadians with diabetes are hesitant to disclose their diabetes, and 33% of Canadians with diabetes experience anxiety as a result of their disease.

It found that Canadians with diabetes are not receiving the recommended level of care and timely education to prevent complications. Many of them, particularly those with lower incomes, do not have adequate insurance coverage for eye and dental care, specialist foot care, prescription medications and supplies.

On top of this high costs and limited public plan coverage compromises the ability of Canadians to manage diabetes. Indeed, it says that some must choose between paying for food and rent or buying medications and supplies.

“We have a responsibility to address the misunderstanding and discrimination experienced by people living with diabetes. Stigma and discrimination can compromise the ability of people with diabetes to take care of themselves, and in turn can lead to the development of serious complications,” said Dr. Jan Hux, chief science officer for the CDA.

To address the issues the CDA is also forming a national Diabetes Caucus, a non-partisan group of Members of Parliament who will analyse, review and provide recommendations for public policies to champion positive change at a Federal level.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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