Province has no strategy for diabetes: AG

James McLeod
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Auditor general notes cost of diabetes in Newfoundland and Labrador

The auditor general brought attention to the high rate of diabetes in the province in his annual report released Wednesday, the cost associated with it and noted the Department of Health is lacking when it comes to a comprehensive diabetes strategy.

The Department of Health’s diabetes strategy is basically non-existent and that’s going to cost the people of the province.

Auditor General John Noseworthy said Wednesday diabetes is costing the health care system $254 million annually, and it is expected to increase to $322 million by 2020.

Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest rate of diabetes of any province or territory in Canada; 9.3 per cent of the population is diagnosed with the chronic disease.

“When we got into it, we found that, in fact, the department was not doing a good job of co-ordinating this and they haven’t really strategized how they’re going to tackle this,” Noseworthy said. “We talked with the regional health authorities in the province, and there were concerns expressed about the lack of consistency throughout the province as a result of the lack of co-ordination by the province.”

Between 2000 and 2006, the federal government provided $9.7 million to the province to create a Primary Health Care Office; one of the services it provided was help with chronic disease management, including diabetes.

But when the money from Ottawa stopped flowing, the office shut down.

Since then, there has been no provincewide strategy for chronic illness.

“Diabetes is one of the most complex diseases to manage and to treat,” said Carol Ann Smith, Newfoundland director for the Canadian Diabetes Association. “It can lead to such a wide range of complications that many of them require specialized treatment.”

What makes the issue even more challenging is that there are no accurate statistics for how many people in Newfoundland and Labrador have diabetes.

Salaried physicians — roughly a third of all doctors in the province — do not track the number of diagnoses they make.

Moreover, salaried doctors treat more aboriginal patients, who generally have a higher rate of diabetes.

Smith agreed with Noseworthy’s report, which calls for the government to create a registry of diabetes patients in order to better track the disease.

“There’s no diabetes registry in Newfoundland and Lab-rador,” Noseworthy said. “I mean, Nova Scotia has had one since 1994. Manitoba has one.

“This is not rocket science, but it’s a good system where all information related to the diabetes would be captured.”

Action may be coming soon.

The Department of Health agreed with all of Noseworthy’s recommendations.

“I certainly think they are good recommendations,” Health Minister Jerome Kennedy said. “He outlines the problems we have with diabetes in this province, and I am aware as the minister that diabetes is a problem, not only in this province, not only in Canada, but throughout the world.”

Kennedy said he didn’t know why the province didn’t come up with money for the Primary Health Care Office when the federal funding ran out.

In order to reduce diabetes in the long run though, Kennedy said the government will have to put an emphasis on healthy living and encourage people to eat more healthy foods and get more exercise.

Organizations: Department of Health, Primary Health Care Office, Canadian Diabetes Association Newfoundland and Lab

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Ottawa Nova Scotia Manitoba

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Recent comments

  • kate
    March 02, 2013 - 23:07

    How about we look at the following factors in Newfoundland that contribute to possible high levels of diabetes in our children?? 1. Lack of sunshine; therefore Vitamin D 2. Lack of fully nutritional vegetables and fruits- stuff is dead by the time it ends up on the grocery shelves or it's well preserved with chemicals that they apply with a mask on...hmmmm?? 3. Lack of education, all around, on eating whole foods ( I mean real "whole" foods) 4. Elimination of wheat and dairy in the diet. The body can not process it anymore and they've been heavily altered over the past 20 years - ie: GMO's and hormones in dairy) 5. Questionable meat. Unless it's not injected with a million hormones and dyes or more recently genetically modified. 6. High fructose and corn derived sugars in packaged and processed foods are like feeding the body rat poison, ditto goes for all of the chemical sugars like aspartame, saccharin etc. That brings me to my final really surprises me that no one is mentioning the fact that Newfoundland has the highest population of vaccinated children in the country. Vaccines are severely damaging to the immune systems of the young and elderly. In closing, I don't care what research has found contrary to these things... we are polluting our bodies. Diabetes wasn't this prevalent 50 years ago...think about why? Stop eating crap and learn more about how to take care of yourself and your children. Don't blame it on genetics - it's obvious what is happening here in my eyes.

  • Ammes
    January 27, 2011 - 10:39

    The diabetes drug makers take in 10 billion$$$$ every year with no cure!! Food Chemicals are the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis NOT Sugar The FDA and Drug makers know this and are laughing to the Billionaire$$$ bank! The food chemicals break the gut(insulin) and this is the cause of the diabetes and obesity crisis A filmmaker has been reversing diabetes and Obesity in now 10 countries and the drug makers do not promote the story just google SPIRIT HAPPY DIET

    • Grant
      January 27, 2011 - 13:00

      James, Although your article was created from various sources, you failed to make the distinction between Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.In the last paragraph of this article the Minister of Health, Jerome Kennedy, did not make the distinction. However, as you are reporting his comments to the public, could you please include the disctinction of type 1 adn type 2 diabeties in teh article. Exercise and eating healthy will not help those with Type 1 Diabetes, as it is an auto immune disorder. Those with type 1 diabetes are commonly being discriminated against due to the lack of distinction by the media. AMMES, although some of what you said is true, your comments illustrate a lack of understanding of Diabetes is. THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF DIABETES: Type 1 (Juvenile Diabetes) and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is an auto immune disorder that usually surfaces early in life. It has nothing to do with diet, weight, or exercise. Type 2 diabetes, to which you were referring, is caused by poor diet, and or lack of exercise. Please make the distinction in the future. Those who suffer from Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes are commonly, and unjustly, grouped in with those with type two. -Grant