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Prof Jim Mann calls for govt to ‘wake up’ on diabetes

Posted in Reflections On Science on November 22nd, 2012.

 Professor Jim Mann from the University of Otago berates authorities for their lack action and engagement on the issue of diabetes in New Zealand in opinion article for the Otago Daily Times. His commentary follows an article in the Times last week in which Dunedin National list MP and chief whip Michael Woodhouse rejected claims that the government wasn’t serious about the issue of diabetes.

An excerpt (read in full here):

A recent article published in the Otago Daily Times referred to criticisms I made on World Diabetes Day (November 14) of Government inaction over a looming diabetes crisis. Here I provide additional context, as other comments reported in the article suggest I may not understand government process and that I am overreacting with regard to action required for the treatment and prevention of this condition.

One of the major events of World Diabetes Day was a forum at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin in which approaches to the management of the diabetes crisis were discussed. An important objective of this forum was to again draw attention to the epidemic nature of diabetes in New Zealand and, in particular, to information not previously available on the alarming prevalence of pre-diabetes.

Given that diabetes is now one of the most important health issues facing this country, it is important to hear how the Government proposes tackling the problem and how other political parties view its approach. All political parties, the local DHB, Pharmac and the president of Diabetes New Zealand were invited to attend. Unfortunately, the only politician to attend was Maryann Street, Labour’s health spokeswoman.

A Government perspective was essential to the diabetes discussion given there has been no public opportunity to debate the issues, that care for people with diabetes is known to be patchy throughout the country (excellent in some areas, questionable in others) and that, although screening for diabetes is being encouraged in some groups, there is no consistent approach to the management of pre-diabetes.

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