A spotlight is being shone on the 5,500 people in Darwin living with diabetes, this National Diabetes Week.
Out of those with the condition in the region 5000 people are living with type 2 diabetes.
An estimated 50 per cent of Australians living with type 2 diabetes are not accessing a range of recommended diabetes health checks that help to prevent and manage diabetes-related complications, including checks for diabetes management, cholesterol, eyes, kidneys and feet.
According to Diabetes Australia missed health checks and reduced access to routine health care for people living with the condition could be costing the Australian health system around $2.3B each year.
New modelling, based on US research, found the cost impact of people in Australia living with type 2 diabetes and not receiving recommended care was around $3,564 per person per year.
Diabetes Australia Group CEO Justine Cain says this annual awareness week is all about starting a conversation.
“We want to amplify the voices of the 1.5 million Australians living with diabetes, we also want to be really clear in our national diabetes week campaign that we need to stop the stigma and stop the discrimination.
“Nobody chooses diabetes,” she says.
“Diabetes Australia is launching Australia’s biggest conversation about the impact of diabetes, we’re going to be hearing first hand from people living with diabetes, their families, their healthcare workers and researchers to gather information to feed into the current Federal Governments public inquiry into diabetes.
“Diabetes is complex and can lead to a range of debilitating and costly complications.
“Many of these complications can be prevented or delayed by ensuring people receive timely and appropriate medical care.
“One of the challenges with Australia’s healthcare system is that it has been orientated towards treating people when they are sick and unwell, rather than preventing issues before they develop.
“For people with diabetes, this means we need to better ensure people can easily access the routine health checks which can detect problems like heart and kidney disease and vision loss early when they are most treatable.
“That’s why we are strong supporters of the Federal Government’s Strengthening Medicare process which will create a health system that better meets the needs of people living with chronic conditions such as diabetes.”
“Diabetes Australia is encouraging people to complete our National Community Consultation Survey and attend one of our Great Debates either in person or online.”
Queensland man Glenn Lewis, has lived with type 2 diabetes for about eight years.
The 71-year-old says he is grateful he understood the importance of staying on top of his condition from its earliest stages, and that his GP was determined to help him access the best diabetes care.
“Before I retired, I was an instrument and control engineer for petrochemical companies, and I had a good understanding about balancing my blood glucose levels,” he says.
“About two years after I was diagnosed, my body wasn’t responding to medication, so I went straight to insulin.
“Some people resist doing that, but I knew I had to keep my blood glucose levels in a healthy range.
“My doctor was also insistent from the beginning that I completed my Annual Cycle of Care appointments and checks.
“I attend all my regular appointments for eyes, feet, liver and kidney function, and heart checks.
“I understand that with a condition like diabetes, you must stay on top of it.
“I want to prevent the possible complications rather than have to deal with them.”