New taskforce to tackle growth of diabetes in Australia

by Barbara Hewitt on January 2, 2014

A high level diabetes taskforce has been set up in Australia to help the country’s 1.5 million sufferers and address the rise in people developing type 2 diabetes.


It is estimated that up to three million Australians over the age of 25 will have diabetes by the year 2025

It is estimated that if diabetes continues to rise at the current rates, up to three million Australians over the age of 25 years will have diabetes by the year 2025. For type 2 diabetes, this is likely to be driven by rising obesity, an ageing population, dietary changes and sedentary lifestyles.

Federal Minister for Health, Peter Dutton, said that the plan will inform future health spending to target diabetes prevention and management. ‘Too many Australians have diabetes. More than 4% of the population have a diagnosed diabetes condition and a further 1% have diabetes and don’t know it. This is why the government is taking steps to develop a national strategy,’ he explained.

‘We know that diabetes interacts with and influences other chronic diseases. Many of these diseases and associated complications can be prevented by targeting shared risk factors such as obesity. It is important that doctors and other health professionals are supported by a system that enables them to provide patients with best practice treatment and management of diseases like diabetes,’ he added.

As well as lifestyle related type 2 diabetes, he said that the government is concerned about the high number of children living with type 1 diabetes. In recognition of the need for further research, the government has promised an additional $35 million to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Clinical Research Network in its efforts to find a much needed cure for type 1 diabetes.

The Government is also providing an additional $1.4 million for the diabetes insulin pump programme which will benefit more than 200 children and their families with subsidised access to insulin pumps in 2014.

An expert advisory group co-chaired by Baker IDI’s Director Emeritus Professor Paul Zimmet and the new President of Diabetes Australia Judi Moylan, will consider available evidence and consult with a wide range of stakeholders to inform the development of a National Diabetes Strategy.

The strategy will inform how existing health spending in this critical area can be better targeted to address diabetes prevention and management.

‘I am honoured to have been invited to co-chair this group to advance policy and initiatives and help stem the tide of diabetes in Australia. Health Minister Peter Dutton has fulfilled an election commitment and hopefully today’s announcement marks a new start for diabetes policy,’ said Professor Zimmet.

‘We can now pick up the baton in diabetes which has been dropped in recent years. More than 280 Australians develop diabetes every day and we need to be proactive at every level to address the disease and its co-morbidities such as kidney and eye disease,’ he added.

Professor Garry Jennings, director of Baker IDI, said it is critical for Australia to develop a comprehensive, coordinated national strategy to prevent, manage and treat diabetes.

‘With higher rates of diabetes, we will continue to see an increase in GP visits and hospital admissions resulting in serious budget and planning implications for the health care sector, as well as quality of life issues for people living with diabetes. Better prevention strategies are needed to rein in the personal and structural costs associated with diabetes,’ he explained.

Baker IDI research has shown that intervention with intensive lifestyle changes in people with pre-diabetes can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60% over a three year period, producing an estimated lifetime healthcare cost saving of around $1,087 per person.

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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