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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

New parliamentary inquiry to shed light on diabetes epidemic, unmasking the impact on health and economy

Health Industry Hub | May 31, 2023 |

Pharma News: In a bid to address the alarming rise of diabetes cases and its severe consequences on Australia’s healthcare system and economy, the Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport has launched a new inquiry. The inquiry comes after a referral from the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Mark Butler MP, highlighting the urgency of the situation.

Diabetes Australia sounded the alarm in November 2022 with the release of their report titled Change the Future: Reducing the impact of the diabetes epidemic. The report’s findings revealed staggering increases in healthcare costs associated with diabetes. Over the past two decades, direct healthcare expenses have surged by 289%, while hospital and medication costs have skyrocketed by 308% and 282%, respectively. Furthermore, hospitalisations related to diabetes have surged by a daunting 149% since 2004.

At the helm of this vital inquiry is Dr Mike Freelander MP, the Chair of the Committee, who emphasised the urgency of tackling this growing crisis.

Dr Freelander stated “Diabetes is the world’s fastest-growing chronic health condition, affecting approximately 1.3 million Australians. With multiple forms of diabetes, including type 1, type 2, gestational, and other rare types, it is imperative that we delve into the current situation surrounding diabetes in Australia. This inquiry will help us assess the effectiveness of existing government policies and programs aimed at prevention, diagnosis, and management of this condition.”

The inquiry will take a comprehensive approach, exploring various factors that contribute to diabetes, including lifestyle choices and their intersection with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

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Dr Freelander highlighted the significance of this inquiry, stating, “We eagerly await input from individuals living with diabetes, healthcare service providers, researchers, peak bodies, the Australian Government, state and territory governments, and members of the public. Their insights will help us understand the latest evidence-based advancements in diabetes prevention and management, as well as the broader impact on Australia’s health system and economy.”

Supporting Dr Freelander’s efforts is the Deputy Chair of the Committee, Melissa McIntosh MP. Ms McIntosh, who has a personal connection to the cause as her son was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, expressed the gravity of the situation.

“We want to uncover the reasons behind the rise in diabetes cases, explore prevention strategies, and identify new treatments. Our inquiry will cover various forms of diabetes, including gestational diabetes. It is a complex but immensely important undertaking for the health of our nation,” she said.

Justine Cain, CEO of Diabetes Australia Group, further highlighted the urgent need for action. She said “Over the past decade alone, we have witnessed a troubling 37% increase in diabetes diagnoses among younger Australians aged 39 or under. This cohort includes more than 42,000 individuals with type 2 diabetes, often experiencing more severe symptoms and a higher risk of complications. Alarmingly, Australia’s rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander diabetes are among the highest globally, with Central Australia facing the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the world.”

Ms Cain continued, “The past decade has also seen an alarming surge in gestational diabetes cases, with up to half a million mothers who have had gestational diabetes at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Equally concerning are the newly identified diabetes-related complications leading to hospitalisations.”

To facilitate a comprehensive inquiry, the Committee invites submissions from interested individuals and organisations until August 31, 2023. This critical investigation aims to chart a path forward in combatting the diabetes epidemic, safeguarding the health and wellbeing of Australians, and ensuring a sustainable future for the nation’s healthcare system.

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