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Ministry of Health Marks Diabetes Awareness Week

Media Release

18 November 2009

Ministry of Health Marks Diabetes Awareness Week

This week marks Diabetes Awareness Week and it serves as a timely reminder to all New Zealanders about the prevalence of diabetes amongst our communities.

Ministry of Health Chief Advisor Dr Sandy Dawson says, "We have just updated the national estimates and for the first time, the number of people with diagnosed diabetes exceeds 200,000. There are also about 100,000 people who have diabetes but have not yet had it diagnosed. "

"The prevalence of diabetes amongst our Māori and Pacific communities is around three times higher than the rest of the population. Prevention, early diagnosis, and improving the management of diabetes remain important priorities for our health system. However the real impact of diabetes is not described with numbers, or money. Diabetes is a priority because it reduces the quality of life for individuals, their whānau, and their communities."

Dr Dawson says as our population ages and our lifestyles change, long term conditions such as diabetes and its complications are likely to increase.

"One of the six National Health Targets for the health sector aims to increase the number of people with diabetes accessing free annual checks, and ensuring that these people get the best possible advice and support to reduce their risks of complications. There is still significant variation in results for this Health Target across the 21 DHBs. The best New Zealand health services are doing well by any international comparison, but there is still room for substantial improvement in many areas."

"It is encouraging to see leaders in the health sector responding with new proposals for Integrated Family Health Centres, which will have major practical benefits for everyone with long term conditions."

The theme of this year's Diabetes Awareness Week is 'the quiet thief', focusing on the many complications of diabetes and the importance of early diagnosis and good management.


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