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Fight for Govt Funding for Diabetes Won’t Stop

Fight for Government Funding for Diabetes Won’t Stop

Additional government funding to stem the diabetes epidemic remains a key priority for Diabetes New Zealand, the national conference of member societies was told today (Saturday 8 May) by Mr Russell Finnerty, President of Diabetes New Zealand.

“We have come a long way and successive governments have listened to some of our pleas. Diabetes, at least Type 2, diabetes is now treated as a major health issue in this country. However there is still much, much more that needs to be done, including a greater communication between the DHB’s to manage the resources available most efficiently,” said Mr Finnerty.

A new focus for Diabetes New Zealand is ‘Pre Diabetes’. This recognises the importance of the asymptomatic period before Type 2 diabetes becomes evident. For up to 10-12 years elevated blood glucose can be causing irreparable damage. With early detection, fully blown Type 2 diabetes can be prevented, saving an individual from more serious complications, effectively saving the country millions.

Mr Finnerty commented on the excellent coverage the media now gives to Diabetes, but suggested that in fact while there was a much better general understanding of Type 2 Diabetes affecting a known 115,000 people, the 11,000 New Zealanders with Type 1 diabetes have a lifetime management problem visited on them through an autoimmune disease. In fact there are two types of conditions with the same name.

Youth with Type 1 diabetes have up to this stage had their own organisation operating independently of Diabetes New Zealand. Diabetes Youth New Zealand has now joined Diabetes New Zealand to ensure there is a strong uniform message reaching government. The costs of managing Type 1 diabetes are very high including prescriptions, medical support, snack foods, syringes etc and Diabetes New Zealand intends to continue to lobby for support for these people to Government.

Many Type 1 New Zealanders have been coping with their condition since birth, including Joan Brabant who is the inaugural recipient of the Sir Charles Burns Memorial medal. Joan was diagnosed with diabetes when she was 18 months old. She is New Zealand’s longest user of insulin. For the past 77 years she has seen a huge number of changes in treatment regimes.

“Joan is fighting fit and healthy, and her positive outlook on life sends a great message to young people with diabetes and their parents – that it is manageable, and you can lead a great productive life,” said Mr Finnerty.

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