Canada needs a national strategy to stop the diabetes epidemic.
Canada is among the worst of developed countries in terms of our prevalence and cost of treating diabetes, a costly disease both to individuals and families, and to our health-care system.
In British Columbia, an estimated 1.5 million people live with diabetes or prediabetes. In 2019, diabetes will cost the B.C.’s health-care system an estimated $509 million, 80 per cent of which is spent on treating its complications, including heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.
What many people don’t know about diabetes is that if individuals living with the disease are able to maintain their blood sugar levels within a target range, these costly complications may be avoided.
People living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes are all at risk of serious and costly complications, but the two types of diabetes are quite different. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, with the cause or trigger still unknown. For someone with type 1 diabetes, insulin is a life-sustaining therapy. Type 2 is a disease with a number of risk factors, including age, weight, family history, lifestyle (diet and exercise) and many other factors, including poverty and access to healthy food. Despite the growing prevalence of this complex and potentially disabling disease, there is no established national strategy to co-ordinate effort between the provinces and territories, or to share the best practices or measure results.
It is time the federal government invest in a strategy that brings all governments together to end the diabetes epidemic in Canada. A nationwide diabetes strategy would actually generate a return on the federal government’s investment. Diabetes Canada estimates that a $150 million investment will result in $18 billion in savings from prevention alone, 245,000 fewer hospitalizations and 35,000 fewer lower limb amputations. Diabetes Canada is asking all parties running in the upcoming federal election to support diabetes 360, a nation-wide diabetes strategy. Go to diabetes.ca to sign the petition.