Yesterday the Coalition made a commitment to the development of a National Diabetes Strategy, which is clearly a political win for those interested in the presence of diabetes in the election campaign. Renza has summarised this on the Diabetes Australia – Victoria blog succinctly.
I have written the following piece to the Labor candidates in my former electorate and current electorate. I’ll disclose here that I am generally a supporter of the Labor party, but I am not a card-carrying member.
Hopefully it has some impact!
You can read my letter below:
“Dear [removed] and [removed],
As a traditionally Labor supporter that has lived in the Electorate of [removed] for 26 years (with family still there) and now living in the Electorate of [removed], I’m writing to highlight the importance of a National Diabetes Strategy to the future of all people in Australia living with diabetes, and those that will be affected in the future. I have lived with type 1 diabetes for 16 years and recent government statistics show that the incidence of type 1 diabetes continues to increase.
The Coalition yesterday announced a commitment to support the development of a National Diabetes Strategy. This announcement has been welcomed by influential diabetes organisations, Diabetes Australia, Diabetes Australia – Victoria and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I fully appreciate that these matters are within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Health and Medical Research, however I equally value the importance and influence of local candidates to shaping the policy position of the Australian Labor Party movement. There are currently only two mentions of diabetes in Australian Labor’s National Platform, and neither of these items reflect a commitment to strategic leadership on these matters.
As you may be aware, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body mistakenly attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. It is certain that going on a diet or cutting down on sugar does not stop type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease, and people with the condition need up to 6 insulin injections every day or a continuous infusion of insulin from a small pump, plus multiple finger prick blood sugar tests, just to stay alive.
Diabetes will become the number 1 burden of disease in Australia in the next five years and the personal financial cost of diabetes is high. The health costs to the Australian community can be immense as well, and Australia does not have a National Diabetes Strategy.
Consequently, it is clear to me that the current system needs improvement, coordination and leadership to ensure people with type 1 diabetes can achieve the highest quality of life possible.
Diabetes Australia has prepared A National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan document to “provide the incoming government, after the 2013 national election, with a clear framework for a new national strategy for diabetes and five year action plan”. Of particular importance to me, are the following items:
- People with diabetes in certain high risk groups should have government supported access to Continuous Glucose Monitoring technology (e.g. hypoglycaemia unawareness)
- Regulatory and approval processes should take account of measures and benefits beyond HbA1c and include wellbeing measures
- Engage and empower all people with all types of diabetes to be at the centre of the diabetes response and play a central role in developing diabetes and related policies and strategies and determining ways in which services are delivered
We need a new national diabetes strategy, and I look forward to the diabetes policy announcements from the Australian Labor Party in the coming weeks.
Achieving world class outcomes for people living with type 1 diabetes (and type 2 for that matter) should be a bi-partisan commitment.
I appreciate your consideration of these matters, and wish you both good luck for 7 September.