Push for more type 2 diabetes screening
Australia could save $700 million a year in a simple preventable health measure aimed at reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes.
Diabetes Australia says it should not take a heart attack, a stroke, blindness or a limb amputation for people to discover they have been living with type 2 diabetes for years.
But the national organisation says people often are only diagnosed with the condition after suffering complications, with the disease having gone undetected and untreated for up to seven years.
“It’s a very common statement: ‘I wish, I wish, it was found earlier’,” the organisation’s chief executive Professor Greg Johnson said.
“‘Then I could have acted earlier, things could have been done, I could have gotten treatment.'”
Prof Johnson says international evidence has found that early detection and optimal treatment could save as much as $1,415 per person per year.
“With an estimated 500,000 Australians having silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes, that could translate to savings of more than $700 million for the Australian health system each year,” he said.
Diabetes Australia is launching a fresh bid to overcome the condition, pushing for a national, comprehensive early detection program across the nation.
It’s calling on emergency rooms and GP clinics to conduct more routine screening, with the commonwealth and state governments leading the way through policy and funding.
The merits of routine screening already have been shown through an innovative program run at some western Sydney hospitals and GP clinics, Prof Johnson said.
Through the program, about 48,000 patients who checked into emergency departments at Blacktown and Mt Druitt Hospitals, and had blood tests done, were additionally screened for the disease.
Of those, 17 per cent were deemed “likely” to have type 2 diabetes, with another 30 per cent found to be at “high-risk”.
Blacktown Hospital’s Dr Glen Maberly said the results from the GP checks for type 2 diabetes were alarming.
“Of the nearly 6,000 people tested, 26 per cent were found to have pre-diabetes, while 17 per cent were likely to have type 2 diabetes,” Dr Maberly said.
Prof Johnson said he hopes those figures sway governments towards supporting the tests’ “simple concept”.
A spokeswoman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said the federal government is determined to tackle chronic conditions such as diabetes and is doing so through several measures.
They include funding a pharmacy-based type 2 diabetes screening trial, and allocating $600,000 in its latest budget to increasing awareness of the risks posed by the condition.
“Australians who are at risk of developing diabetes are urged to see their GP and get tested,” the spokeswoman said.
Just under 1.1 million Australians are living with type 2 diabetes, and it’s believed another 500,000 may be living with the condition undiagnosed.