Early detection and management of diabetes is crucial to controlling the human and economic costs of the condition in future.
MidCentral Health's diabetologist Owais Chaudhri has responded to criticisms from Diabetes New Zealand last week that too many district health boards are cutting diabetes services when they are already struggling to cope.
The MidCentral District Health Board recently confirmed it was dropping one nurse from its specialist Diabetes Lifestyle Centre.
Dr Chaudhri agreed that diabetes was a worrying and increasing global health problem.
He was particularly concerned about how it disproportionately affected Maori and Pacific Islanders.
"The human costs, not just to the patient, but also to their wider family, are often incalculable," he said. "The impact on people's personal and working lives can be devastating."
The economic costs were also significant in terms of lost working days and the costs to health services in treating complications including heart disease and kidney failure, with a year of renal dialysis costing $60,000 for each patient.
But Dr Chaudhri said much of the burden of disease was avoidable through early, effective intervention including control of blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
It had to be a team effort, he said, which included the contribution of primary health care workers.
In Primary Health Organisation performance results just released, the former Manawatu PHO (now part of the Central PHO), has shown it is continuing to pick up increased numbers of people with diabetes, particularly in the high-risk population of Maori, Pacific Islanders and poor people, defined as Decile 9 and 10.
In the six months to the end of June, it did better than its target, picking up 95 per cent of people with high needs estimated to have diabetes.
It has achieved above national rates in getting people to have their annual checks.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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