NACCHO Aboriginal Health news: Diabetes is set to “bankrupt the Australian health system”,

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Professor Alex Brown, head of the Aboriginal Research Unit at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, said a majority of adults over 50 in some Indigenous communities will have it.

“It is probably the leading cause of preventable blindness in Aboriginal Australia,” he said.

A MASSIVE rise in diabetes is set to “bankrupt the Australian health system”, experts warned today after the release of a World Diabetes Atlas showing the looming health catastrophe.

As published in NEWS LTD

Twenty years ago, an alarming rise in the disease led to forecasts it would reach 100 million cases worldwide this year – instead it has rocked to 382 million and is on a trajectory to reach almost 600 million by 2035, or 1 in 10 people.

There will be more than five million deaths from the disease this year and the bill for care, medication and treatment will hit US$548 billion. Plus there are an estimated 175 million cases that are undiagnosed.

Release of the report ahead of the World Diabetes Congress in Melbourne next month shows 1.7 million Australians now have it, a similar number are at risk and by 2035 some 2.3 million Australians will have it.

Congress chairman Professor Paul Zimmet of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute said it was a looming catastrophe.

“Unless we do something about it, it is going to have very severe effects on the national economy,” he said.

“Along with obesity it is the largest public health issue the world faces, with the potential to actually bankrupt the Australian health system.”

  The most common form of diabetes – Type 2, which is associated with lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise – was previously only seen in adults but now is being seen in children in Australia.

Complications can include heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, feet problems leading to amputation, sleep apnoea, and fatty liver. It is also on track to overtake alcohol as the major cause of cirrhosis of the liver.

The atlas shows South East Asia and the Western Pacific as the regions with the highest rates, with up to one in three adults in Pacific island of Tokelau having the disease.

It also shows the heavy impact the disease is having on indigenous peoples around the world as lifestyles and diet change, such as various American Indian tribes as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Professor Alex Brown, head of the Aboriginal Research Unit at the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, said a majority of adults over 50 in some indigenous communities will have it.

“It is probably the leading cause of preventable blindness in Aboriginal Australia,” he said.

He noted a move by Aboriginal elders in the Kimberley to revert to traditional lifestyles and diet has seen significant improvements in the disease rate but this was unlikely to be a wide-scale solution.

President of the International Diabetes Federation Sir Michael Hirst said diabetes is a disease of development.

“The misconception that diabetes is ‘a disease of the wealthy’ is still held, to the detriment of desperately needed funding to combat the pandemic,” he said.

“Today, on World Diabetes Day, we must continue to increase awareness of the importance of a healthy diet and physical activity. Crucially, environments must be created that lay the foundations for healthy living.”

One comment on “NACCHO Aboriginal Health news: Diabetes is set to “bankrupt the Australian health system”,

  1. This is criminal. It is so preventable and Kakadu Complex, a whole food nutritional based on a dozen traditional indigenous foods could be a key factor. This puree of wild and conventional super-fruits and herbs is a rich source of antioxidants and these have been shown to normalize blood sugar response, high blood pressure and other symptoms of nutritional diseases.

    And an additional benefit is that the sourcing of the wild foods provides opportunities for Aboriginal communities as the product demand grows here and internationally.

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