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Tauranga Diabetes Information Centre Opening

19 November 2001

Speech Notes - Hon Annette King

Official Opening Of Tauranga Diabetes Information Centre

Good afternoon and welcome. It is always a pleasure to visit sunny Tauranga, but I am especially pleased to be here today to help celebrate the opening of a very important resource for the people of the Bay of Plenty.

Being the start of Diabetes Awareness Week, it is very appropriate for us to officially open the new Tauranga Diabetes Information Centre today.

Your new centre, which I understand has been operating for several weeks now, is a very positive development. It is a place for people to drop in for help and information about diabetes, including resources such as recipe books and magazines, or for a chat or practical advice on handling diabetes. It is also a means of increasing the profile of diabetes in the Tauranga community.

Some people may ask, 'why a centre solely devoted to diabetes?' Well, the sad fact is that diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions in this country, and indeed globally.

The themes for National Diabetes Awareness Week, "Diabetes and sight loss" and World Diabetes Day last Wednesday, "Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease", are important but I believe that they only touch on certain aspects of the condition.

The true extent of the problem remains daunting, and the number of people with diabetes in New Zealand continues to make for sobering reading.

About 3 percent of the population, or roughly 110,000 New Zealanders, know they have diabetes and a similar number are thought to be living with undiagnosed diabetes.

Diabetes kills at least 1200 New Zealanders each year, and diabetes complications, such as heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and lower limb amputations are major causes of disease and disability. Put simply, diabetes reduces the quality of life for many New Zealanders.

But there are some encouraging results from a range of diabetes programmes in New Zealand that indicate we may finally be getting nearer to reducing the incidence and impact of diabetes throughout the country.

Community projects like yours can only help. And it is truly a community initiative, because the centre is staffed on a voluntary basis by a core of about 15 members. I would like to commend you all for your dedication and enthusiasm, and I would particularly like to thank Trevor Thompson for all the work he has done as president of Diabetes Tauranga.

As Minister of Health, I am continually impressed by the commitment and drive of New Zealanders. It is heartening to still see the continuing Kiwi spirit in an increasingly cynical and materialistic world.

Voluntary work has not only been instrumental in the establishment and success of your new centre - it is also invaluable to the future of the public system. The continuing good will and dedication of such volunteers is vital.

Thank you again for the opportunity to talk with you today and for the invitation to open your information centre. It is always a pleasure to be present at events that celebrate the culmination of a lot of hard work and which offer hope for a local community in tackling some of its most serious health needs. You should all be proud of your new information centre.

Again, thank you for your time today and good luck for the future. I am sure I will catch up with many of you at the annual dinner function tonight, and I look forward to talking to you then about diabetes initiatives, particularly in relation to the Price WaterhouseCoopers report on reducing Type 2 diabetes.

Ends


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