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National Diabetes Research Strategy Launched

Health Minister Annette King has welcomed the formation of a new research strategy into diabetes.

The Ministry of Health and the Health Research Council have signed a joint venture agreement, and have each committed $250,000 for the next three years to the National Diabetes Research Strategy.

The strategy will be for clinical or community-based diabetes research, as decided by a steering committee made of up representatives from the Ministry, the HRC, diabetes researchers, clinicians, Maori and Pacific communities, and consumer groups. That committee is expected to convene for the first time at the end of July, with the first of the projects launched by early next year.

One key area the strategy will cover is gaining evidence in a New Zealand community setting for primary prevention and screening for type-two diabetes, particularly in the high-risk Maori and Pacific populations. Up to three sentinel sites will be set up around the country, to provide New Zealand-specific evidence for primary prevention and screening, as well as treatment.

Mrs King said diabetes was a condition that was increasing globally, and indications were the prevalence of diabetes would increase significantly in the next 10 years.

Diabetes causes more than 1500 deaths each year in New Zealand, and diabetes complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations, are major contributors to the burden of disease and disability.

"Type-two diabetes is a largely preventable disease for which obesity and lack of physical activity are major risk factors," she said.

"Anything that comes out of these projects that can reduce the incidence of diabetes will be welcome. And the focus on Maori and Pacific people reinforces the Government's commitment to reducing inequalities and achieving better health status for all New Zealanders."

Primary prevention of type-two diabetes was identified as a key priority in the Government's Diabetes 2000 plan, which noted that long-term community-based projects, targeting high-risk groups, would be the most effective tool in fighting diabetes.

Ends

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