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Wait ends for diabetic children

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Health Minister Peter Dutton has released almost $1 million earmarked by the previous Government to help fund insulin pumps for children in lower-income families.

 In one of his early acts as Minister, Mr Dutton has signed a contract with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) to supply insulin pumps to 204 families with children who have type 1 diabetes.

The move has ended months of uncertainty for the families, after former Health Minister Tanya Plibersek announced in July that an extra $870,000 had been allocated to the program, under which the Commonwealth covers up to 80 per cent of the cost of insulin pumps for eligible families.

So far, 439 children with type 1 diabetes have been provided with insulin pumps through the scheme, which provides assistance to families with an annual income less than $101,653.

The funding increase was put on hold when the Federal election was declared and the Government entered caretaker mode, and Mr Dutton admitted the delay has caused stress for the families involved.

“I know that parents were upset at the delay in this funding, and I wanted it sorted,” he said. “It will at least be one less worry for families under enormous pressure. Some of these families have been on a waiting list for over a year. They’ve waited long enough for access to this life changing technology.”

Insulin pumps liberate children with type 1 diabetes from the need to be injected with insulin up to four times a day. Instead the pump, which is a small computerised device, provides a slow, continuous feed of rapid acting insulin throughout the day, delivered through a tiny tube under the skin.

The pumps are expensive, typically costing between $4000 and $8000, and under the scheme the Government provides means tested subsidies ranging from 10 to 80 per cent of the cost of a pump (capped at $6400) for families with an annual income between $69,496 and $101,653.

Adrian Rollins