World Diabetes Day 15 November
Pegaus Medical Group and the Ngai Tahu Development Corporation are today urging Maori to be tested for diabetes, if they fall into the high risk category for the disease.
"World Diabetes Day is a great opportunity to increase awareness of the seriousness of diabetes. Maori are particularly at risk of having diabetes so it's vital that we get the message out to our communities regarding the need to be tested," said Dr. Erihana Ryan, Chair of the Ngai Tahu Development Corporation.
"Early diagnosis gives us a huge advantage in managing diabetes properly."
According to a Ministry of Health survey, Maori are more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with diabetes than European akeha people.
Dr Paul McCormack, Chairman of Pegasus, says a diabetes test takes only a matter of minutes but could save a lifetime of complications. Blindness, kidney damage, heart disease and conditions requiring amputation are all complications that can stem from diabetes.
"While diabetes cannot be cured, it can be controlled. The same goes for many of the complications linked with diabetes, the importance of early detection cannot be overstated."
"Knowing you have diabetes is the first step to getting it under control. So getting tested if you are in a high risk category is one of the most important things you can do for your health," said Dr McCormack.
High risk factors for diabetes include the following characteristics and symptoms:
age over 30 for non-Europeans, over 40 for Europeans
Non-European ancestry, especially Maori, Asian and Pacific Island Descent
obesity tends to run in families
fatigue, dry skin and skin infections, tingling or itching in the feet
abnormally high thirst
abnormally high hunger
Anybody with concerns about diabetes should talk with their family doctor.
"Developing a good relationship with a family doctor you know and trust is one of the keys to diabetes awareness. Your family doctor will be able to tell if you are at risk, and can ensure you are tested regularly," said Dr McCormack.
Pegasus has identified diabetes, along with smoking cessation and the reduction of heart disease as one of the key areas they will be targeting for the new century.