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Type 2 Diabetes Continues to Rise

17 October 2008

Type 2 Diabetes Continues to Rise

Diabetes New Zealand has today released the 2008 update on its prognosis for Type 2 Diabetes and it doesn’t make good reading, says President Mike Smith.

In 2001 Diabetes New Zealand commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to assess the cost savings that could be achieved if Government was to introduce more active prevention programmes. The 2001 report “Type 2 Diabetes: Managing for Better Health Outcomes”, projected costs out to 2022 and demonstrated that substantial long-term savings in money and reduced suffering could be achieved by a higher level of investment in prevention.

The additional costs and suffering are largely the result of complications that arise from prolonged diabetes which include renal failure, blindness and the need for amputation.

“These are not pleasant outcomes for people who may become dependent as a result of them, and very costly care is required for the individual and the New Zealand taxpayer,” he says.

The current prevalence rate of over 160,000 diagnosed and 73,000 undiagnosed was not forecast to be reached until 2011-12 by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

“Prevalence of this disease is speeding ahead despite all our efforts,” says Mr Smith.

On current trends by 2022 the total number of people with Type 2 diabetes is expected to be at least 407,000. This is more than 150,000 (60%) above the prediction based on the 2001 prevalence. Forecast levels are increasing all the time because actual experience is proving to be well above forecasts.

As a result of rapidly increasing prevalence cost estimates out to 2022 have also rapidly increased.

“It’s our contention that if extra spending was undertaken on prevention now, there would be a return of at least four times as much in reduced costs such as hospitalization in 2022. The benefit could be a lot higher than that, perhaps up to 10 times.

“It’s a case of the public health system always being a bit behind the game. We seem to be struggling to catch up with this disease rather than being in control of it. Some good work is being done on detection and in some populations detection levels are high. This has to be backed up by positive and active prevention and only then will we truly be in control. But at the moment there just aren’t the resources being allocated to prevention.

“Diabetes is a sinister disease and is very easy to underestimate largely because a person can have it for a long time without significant symptoms. Then suddenly they can be facing the prospect of severe disability which could have been avoided if management has begun earlier.

Once again, we are calling on Government to get to grips with this disease by recognizing that only a major preventive strategy is going to stop the suffering and cost blowouts that this will present to us in a decade or so,” says Mr Smith.


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