Yesterday International Diabetes Federation President, Sir Michael Hirst and Diabetes Australia CEO, Professor Greg Johnson addressed The National Press Club. A lot of statistics, (present and projected) were thrown around to help illustrate what a problem diabetes is for Australia. A new document was launched, “A National Diabetes Strategy and Action Plan“.
“The purpose of this document is to provide the incoming Australian government, after the 2013 federal election, with a clear framework for a new national strategy for diabetes and a five year action plan.”
Four goals were outlined in detail:
“1. Prevent complications – optimal management and earlier diagnosis
2. Prevent more people from developing type 2 diabetes
3. Reduce the impact of diabetes in pregnancy for mothers and children
4. Reduce the impact of diabetes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) Australians
5. Strengthen prevention, care and cure through knowledge and evidence”
For me these sorts of documents are much like the elusive cure for type 1 diabetes being five years away. I first heard that at the time of my diagnosis over 25 years ago. I’d love to get excited about all the changes they may bring to my life, but I’m jaded and I don’t hold out hope. Don’t get me wrong; I remain positive and grateful. I just don’t choose to sit around, twiddling my thumbs waiting for my “diabetes life” to get easier. I would be relying on people who are far removed from me. In this instance it would be federal politicians. And that’s just not how I roll; I take care of myself. I am my own responsibility.
However, I like that the notions of care and support are increasingly finding their way into these documents. The effects that living with diabetes has on one’s mental health is being recognised as an important issue that must be addressed. For example, Action 6 of Goal 1 states, “Stop discrimination against people with diabetes and put an end to the social stigma surrounding diabetes”. Music to my ears!
An issue close to my heart was also addressed in Action 2 of Goal 3, “Ensure optimal management (pre-conception to post-pregnancy) of pre-existing diabetes in pregnancy…”. I know how fortunate I was to be able to access the care required to produce two amazing children. I know others are not as fortunate as me. This definitely needs to change.
Action 2 of Goal 5 touched on the need for a world-leading and comprehensive national research agenda inclusive of the behavioural aspects to living with diabetes. It may be a small blip on the screen at this point in time, but it’s a blip all the same.
If you haven’t been able to glean my main point out of my ramblings, it is this…
DIABETES PEER SUPPORT MATTERS.
DIABETES PEER SUPPORT MAKES A DIFFERENCE.
DIABETES PEER SUPPORT SHOULD BE ON THE AGENDA.
Get it? Got it? Good!
PS. I learnt a new word whilst reading this document; epigenetic. Sounds really good when you say it out loud too!