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Ministry of Health supports Diabetes Awareness

22 November 2005

Ministry of Health supports Diabetes Awareness Week

Primary health care is playing an important role in helping to prevent and manage those at risk from diabetes according to the Ministry of Health.

Ministry spokesman Dr Sandy Dawson says, "Primary health organisations (PHOs) have much more opportunity to ensure a focus on prevention, avoid complications for people with diabetes and help improve outcomes at every step along the journey.

"Diabetes Awareness Week launches today and it is a good opportunity to think about how we can reduce the impact this life threatening disease has on society."

About 125,000 people have diagnosed diabetes and potentially a similar number have the disease and don't know about it. It is estimated that more than 7,500 people will be newly diagnosed with diabetes this year and more than 1,700 deaths will be attributable to diabetes.

The Ministry of Health supports Diabetes New Zealand's Awareness Week, which runs from 22-28 November, and focuses on diabetes and foot care. Prevention is the first step towards solving diabetic foot problems including daily foot care, appropriate footwear and regular foot examinations by healthcare professionals.

Dr Dawson says, "Foot complications in people with diabetes are a consequence of peripheral neuropathy, peripheral blood vessel disease or a combination of both. These complications impact upon quality of life by causing pain and reduce mobility. In addition, they have the potential to lead to lower limb amputation.

"Type-2 diabetes can often be prevented and managed through lifestyle changes such as choosing healthy foods and doing more physical activity."

"There are now more than 3.5 million people enrolled with a PHO and people at risk are being offered early screening to detect diabetes. This screening also allows lifestyle advice for people with pre-diabetes which may include a Green Prescription with ongoing support provided by SPARC including their 'push play' initiative to encourage physical activity. It also allows advice about nutritious foods to keep the entire family healthy.

"Healthy Eating - Healthy Action is the Ministry's strategic approach to improving nutrition, increasing physical activity and achieving a healthy weight for all New Zealanders."

The Get Checked programme offers free annual checks for those with diagnosed diabetes. The percentage of people with diabetes enrolled on the Get Checked programme has increased from 33 percent in 2001 to 59 percent in 2004.

As well as trying to prevent ill health through health promotion and education, PHOs are also targeting long-term disease management through the Care Plus Service. Care Plus offers an initial assessment and community care for people with significant long-term illnesses, such as diabetes or heart disease. Since its introduction last year 56 PHOs are now involved in Care Plus.


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