On World Diabetes Day on 15 November, representatives gathered in Canberra to discuss diabetes in the ACT, highlighting some concerns about the condition in the Canberra region.
Australia’s fastest growing health condition, diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way the body processes glucose.
Director General ACT at Diabetes NSW, Ian Peters, says rates of diabetes are on the increase in the ACT, particularly type 2 and gestational diabetes.
“We have a real issue with type 2 – its diagnosis and registration – and we have a big issue with gestational,” Mr Peters says. “Nobody knows about diabetes.”
He says Diabetes ACT estimates there are around 5,000 people in the ACT that haven’t been diagnosed.
“My big focus and the Minister’s [Minister for Health and Wellbeing Meegan Fitzharris] big focus is that we have to test more … because if you don’t find out that you have diabetes, the sugar that freewheels around the body actually causes a great deal of damage.
“If you have it, there’s nothing to be scared of, because there’s plenty of things we can do, including changing your lifestyle a bit. You’re better off knowing than not knowing.”
At a cost of $18 billion a year in Australia, Mr Peters says diabetes requires more education and support. Three amputations are performed in NSW and the ACT per day from diabetes-related complications.
He says people with diabetes aren’t getting adequate support, with only 53% of people diagnosed registering on the National Diabetes Scheme which provides a “broad platform of education”.
“Locally … we do around 150 workshops a year to help people with diabetes with feet care, carbohydrates, tailored exercise programs, insulin and pumps,” he says.
“We can teach you how to read food labels … It’s really important to understand how to shop.
“If you’re not part of the national scheme, you don’t get any of this because we don’t see you.
“We teach people how to live a better life with diabetes,” Mr Peters says.
“People need to see a whole network, they need to know what the issues are.”
For more information about diabetes support in the ACT, visit diabetesnsw.com.au