DIABETES NEW ZEALAND
Page 1 of 2
Outlook for diabetes – epidemic growth. At what cost?
Most of the money being spent in the public health system on diabetes is on diabetes-related complications.
“The complications of diabetes, such as blindness, limb amputation, heart disease, stroke and kidney dialysis and
transplant are significant contributors to the $170 million spent in public health for diabetes each year,” said Mr Ian
Middlemiss, President of Diabetes New Zealand.
“These conditions can be avoided or significantly delayed if people at risk of diabetes are tested and those with
diabetes manage their diabetes correctly – through a healthy diet, regular exercise and through the taking of medicine
in some cases.”
One major contributor to the onset of diabetes-related complications is the number of people remaining undiagnosed with
“An estimated 115,000 people in New Zealand have been diagnosed with diabetes but as many as 60,000 people have diabetes
with out knowing it,” said Mr Middlemiss. “Often people do not know they have diabetes until they present the more
serious conditions of poor eyesight, heart disease or stroke for example.”
“And 60,000 is a conservative figure. Overseas research is indicating that the incidence of undiagnosed diabetes in
Western countries could be as high as for diagnosed diabetes.
“Unless New Zealanders act now the economic cost of this situation will be far reaching. At present, too many people are
remaining undiagnosed, untreated and once identified, when damage is well advanced, pose a huge cost to the health
system. This will impact on the country’s ability to deliver on a range of health issues – putting additional strain on
a sector which is already under constant pressure.”
In April of this year Diabetes New Zealand launched the Type 2 Diabetes – Managing for Better Health Outcomes report.
“The study showed that unless New Zealand acts now, public health expenditure on diabetes will increase from 2% of total
health expenditure to 12% of public health expenditure, or over 1 billion dollars, by 2021.
“Because many of the complications of diabetes can to be avoided or significantly delayed with the appropriate services
delivered at the appropriate time, Diabetes New Zealand is calling for an additional $40 million package per annum to be
put into prevention, services and a public health strategy focusing on prevention and education.
“What is required is a significant up-front investment from the Government in public health education and primary
medical care, and a co-ordinated strategy across the country for all people. For example, annual screening will detect
the earliest signs of complications, so that they can be treated early and effectively.”
Ministry of Health figures indicate that the number of people with diabetes is set to increase by as much as 50% within
Maori and Pacific Island communities and by 31% for Pakeha/European New Zealanders in less than 20 years.
The key recommendations
(of the Type 2 Diabetes – Managing for Better Health Outcomes report. The report is available on the Diabetes New
Zealand web site www.diabetes.org.nz.)
- More appropriate, affordable and accessible services for people currently diagnosed with diabetes.
- More resources for a public health strategy focusing on prevention and education.
- The setting up of a screening programme to identify people with diabetes and those who are at-risk.
- Establishment of a national register of people with diabetes.
- More research, particularly in the area of service delivery.
- An increase in the number of specialists for essential diabetes services.
Who is at risk of developing diabetes?
People should visit their doctor and be tested for diabetes if they show two or more of the “at risk factors” of:
– Are of European descent and over 40 years of age.
– Are of Maori, Pacific Island or Asian descent and over 30 years of age.
– Are overweight.
– Have a family history of diabetes.
– Have given birth to large babies (9lbs/4kg or over).
– Had high blood glucose levels during pregnancy.
– Have high cholesterol or high blood pressure.
About Diabetes New Zealand
Diabetes New Zealand is an incorporated society established in 1962. It is a non-government, non-profit organisation
that advocates for people with diabetes, raises awareness of diabetes, builds local support groups, and encourages
research and improved treatment. With 12,000 members in 35 local societies, the organisation represents approximately
115,000 people currently known to have diabetes.
For further information contact:
Your local Diabetes Society, or Ian Middlemiss, or Tracy Dillimore
President Network Communications
025 657 1826 025 405 595