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National Guidelines for Diabetes Welcomed



Monday, 10 November 2003

National Guidelines for Diabetes Welcomed

Diabetes New Zealand welcomes the proposed recommendation, that testing for diabetes be introduced with the new national diabetes guidelines from Professor Jim Mann, Chair of the Cardiovascular Guidelines Committee

Diabetes New Zealand welcomes the proposed introduction of the new national health guidelines which are to be formally announced by the Minister of Health, Hon Annette King on 8th December, and particularly the statement by chair of the cardiovascular guidelines that testing for all men over 45 and women over 55 is being recommended. In addition it is also proposed that high risk groups such as Maori and Pacific Peoples are tested 10 years earlier.

“Testing is the crucial partner to the guidelines, because without testing we would be flying blind,” says Russell Finnerty, president of Diabetes New Zealand.

Diabetes New Zealand has been urging for some time that testing or screening is a key method of detecting this disease which is becoming increasingly prevalent. In less than 20 years the number of people in New Zealand with diagnosed diabetes is expected to grow 36%.

Diabetes and heart disease are closely related. For example, the World Health Organisation estimates that 60-70% of people with diabetes die of heart and circulatory disease and people with diabetes are 2-4 times more likely to develop heart or circulatory disease. Family history is a key indicator and should be included in the guidelines.

“The huge advantage of screening is that people with diabetes or pre-diabetic indicators can make lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. This is a quiet and creeping disease that many people can have for 10 years before they become aware of symptoms, at which point their options are very limited.

“Most of the economic and social cost of diabetes is a result of the complications of diabetes, such as heart disease. Early detection will ultimately involve much less cost than complex and often long term treatment.

“We are delighted that thinking is moving in this direction and look forward to the announcement by the Minister.

“There is perhaps just one cautionary word. We believe screening will turn up the real extent to which diabetes is endemic in our community. The result could well be significant and there could be added pressure on primary and secondary health services to provide advice and treatment to ‘at risk’ people picked up in the screening process.

“Screening could well open a Pandora’s box that the public health system needs to be ready and capable of managing,” says Mr Finnerty.

Information on Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes is available on

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