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Deadly Drift Going Unchecked

5 April, 2002

Deadly Drift Going Unchecked
Diabetes National Conference

“People are just not taking diabetes seriously enough,” says spokesperson for Diabetes New Zealand, Professor Don Beaven, as the Diabetes New Zealand annual conference opens in Palmerston North today.

“New Zealand is faced with one of the most critical health issues in its history and we are seeing no action to stem the surging tide of this epidemic.

“We are falling desperately short of this country’s health needs. For all the talk, the projected increase in the incidence of diabetes is increasing not decreasing,” said Professor Beaven. “The number of people with diabetes is projected to double in less than 20 years.”

“Diabetes New Zealand is sad to see minimal progress in the six key recommendations identified in the Type 2 Diabetes – Managing for Better Health Outcomes report it commissioned from PricewaterhouseCoopers and released one year ago. Nor have we seen any new Government programmes on the growth in diabetes and its associated complications of blindness, heart attacks, stroke, limb amputation and kidney disease.

“People simply do not understand diabetes – and there is now a huge failing of the health sector, diabetes groups and the Government,” said Professor Beaven.

New Zealand only spends a quarter as much as the United Kingdom on diabetes services each year.

“Only 2% of the health budget ($170 million) is spent on diabetes services in New Zealand, while the United Kingdom spend 9% per annum, despite the prevalence of diabetes being lower in the UK population (at 4 in every 100 people) than in New Zealand (at 5-10 people in every 100 people),” said Professor Beaven. “The US spends even more.”

“It is enormously concerning that New Zealand is falling so far behind overseas countries in addressing this deadly epidemic. If New Zealand was to rise to the UK rate of expenditure, we would be spending $765 million per year. To date we have seen no response to a clear-cut budget proposal for $37 million per annum that was put forward to the Government last year.

“Without more funding we will never be able to provide adequate public health information for people to make an informed decision about their future. For example, Maori and Pacific communities should be demanding improved information and services as they are at significantly higher risk than other groups in the population.

“We want action now,” said Professor Beaven. “And we invite all those at the conference, representing ½ million families, to get involved and air their views on what the strategy should be going forward.”

In her opening address MP and Health Select Committee Chair, Judy Keall, will discuss this Government’s strategies to better manage diabetes.

Other key note speakers include Dr Sandy Dawson from the Ministry of Heath – who will talk about the current issues, while Professor Don Beaven will talk about the progress of Diabetes Action 2021 – a programme aimed at turning around the diabetes epidemic by 2021. Dr Paul Dixon will discuss what the future could look like in 40 years.

In his closing address, the Hon Steve Maharey, as Minister Responsible for the Community and Voluntary Sector, will be discussing the role of Diabetes New Zealand in the community.

“This conference comes at a time when the need to address issues surrounding the funding and planning of diabetes has never been more urgent or more critical,” says Professor Beaven.


Please find conference details attached.

For more information on the conference or Diabetes Action 2021 contact:

Professor Don Beaven on 03 358 3303, or
Tracy Dillimore on 025 405 595

About Diabetes New Zealand

Diabetes New Zealand is an incorporated society established in 1962. It is a non-government, non-profit organisation that advocates for people with diabetes, raises awareness of diabetes, builds local support groups, and encourages research and improved treatment. With 12,000 members in 36 local societies, the organisation represents approximately 115,000 people currently known to have diabetes. Diabetes New Zealand’s website is at

Diabetes New Zealand National Conference
5 - 7 April 2002 Quality Inn, Palmerston North
Key note addresses

Friday 5th April 2002
1.35pm Opening Guest Speaker:
Judy Keall
MP for Otaki & Chair Health Select Committee

2.15pm Official Opening of Conference and Address:
Co-patron: Lady Beattie

Guest Speaker:
Co-patron: Professor Don Beaven
Progress on Diabetes Action for 2021


Key note speaker:
Dr Sandy Dawson
Diabetes in New Zealand: Current issues

7.00pm Key note Speaker:
Dr Paul Dixon
“40 years on: The treatment may be better but there are many more to treat.”

Saturday 6th April 2002
Annual General Meeting

Sunday 7th April 2002
11.30am Guest Speaker:
Hon. Steve Maharey, MP
Minister Responsible for Community and Voluntary Sector

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