National Diabetes Month wrapped up last week as Diabetes Canada used the awareness to campaign for a national diabetes strategy. The number of Canadians who are diabetic or pre-diabetic is increasing year after year with the most recent statistics reporting 11 million people nationwide.

Joan King with Diabetes Canada public affairs and advocacy, said more awareness about the disease is imperative in order for those numbers to decline. Diabetes 360 is the framework for the proposed national diabetes strategy and focuses on four strategy points: prevention, screening, treatment, outcomes.

King stated that the Saskatchewan health care costs associated with diabetes is upwards of $98 million and across Canada is as high as $27 billion, 80 per cent of which is in relation to secondary complications including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve and eye damage.

Type 1 diabetes, the auto-immune disease, accounts for 5 to 10 per cent of patients, whereas type 2 diabetes has seen a significant rise, accounting for 90 to 95 per cent of people with diabetes. King said out-of-pocket costs in either case can be quite costly depending on each individuals health care coverage and if they qualify for any other provincial funding. However, she said those administering their own injections can spend anywhere from $700 to $2,700 per year in supplies and medication.

Patients who would benefit from using an insulin pump therapy incur greater costs as the pump can be upwards of $7,000. King did say that many health care programs will cover the cost of the pump itself, however, in Saskatchewan, there is an expiration as to when the cost is covered until.

Within the province, if a person diagnosed with diabetes, is under the age of 25 and is recommended for pump therapy, the $7000 is likely covered, however after the patient turns 26, it is a different story. After this time, it is no longer covered by the province even if the patient had been using pump therapy for years up until their 26th birthday.

King said the pump itself is generally good for up to five years, but after that, replacement cost would fall in the lap of the patient. In some instances, pump therapy could greatly reduce the risk of secondary complications, which as stated above, accounts for 80 per cent, or $78 million, in diabetic provincial health care costs.

King emphasized if the Diabetes 360 strategy is implemented, there could be $18 billion in cost savings from prevention and over 750,000 less cases of type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes 360, if accepted by the federal government will cost $150 million spread over seven years.



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