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New plan to tackle ‘silent pandemic’ affecting nation and aged care in particular

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More than 17,000 Australians died from diabetes-related illness over the past 12 months, as another 120,000 were diagnosed with the nation’s fastest-growing chronic disease.

Currently, about 1.9 million Australians suffer from diabetes, with case numbers skyrocketing by 30 per cent over the past eight years.

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

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

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

Diabetes Australia chief executive Greg Johnson said 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 is one of the most significant challenges currently facing Australia’s health system.

The 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.

“Diabetes impacts almost every Australian family in some way, and we welcome the new strategy to guide how the Commonwealth and State and Territory Governments jointly and individually respond to this serious threat to the health and wellbeing of the community.

“In particular, we are pleased the new strategy highlights key issues that require special attention including diabetes in aged care, prevention of type 2 diabetes, and diabetes in First Nations communities.

“Aged care is an area of particular concern with estimates that 15-20 per cent of all people in residential aged care facilities are living with diabetes.

“Many of these older Australians have complex diabetes care needs and there are many failings in our current aged care system to address, in order to provide the specialised care these people need.”

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,” Johnson said

He 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.”

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.

AAP

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