World Diabetes Day

25 November 2019


I move:

That this House:

(1) acknowledges:

(a) that 14 November 2019 is the 12th United Nations World Diabetes Day; and

(b) UN Resolution 61/225 and the need to improve human health and provide access to treatment and health-care education;

(2) recognises:

(a) the success of the National Diabetes Services Scheme and the support the scheme provides to people with diabetes;

(b) the role of families and healthcare workers in caring and supporting people, particularly children, with diabetes;

(c) the significant cost to healthcare systems as a result of complications associated with diabetes;

(d) new technology, including flash and constant glucose monitoring, has shown significant improvement in overall control for people with diabetes who have access to this technology;

(e) the need for supporting people with diabetes to access new technologies to assist in the management of diabetes; and

(f) that access to these technologies is likely to prevent complications in people with diabetes and reduce the significant social, human and financial burden of this disease on government, health systems, and people and families of people with diabetes;

(3) encourages all people with diabetes and their advocates, carers and families to continue their important work; and

(4) calls on the Government to ensure that all people with diabetes have earlier access to new technology, such as flash glucose monitoring and constant glucose monitoring under the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

The date 14 November has been recognised as World Diabetes Day since 2007 after a UN resolution. The resolution was passed by consensus and supported heavily by Australia. It made it clear that member states should develop policies for prevention, treatment and care of diabetes in line with the sustainable development of healthcare systems.

Within my electorate of Werriwa, there are a significant number of people affected by both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle related disease and affects more Australians than type 1, but type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease and it is not caused by anything that person or their family has done. It has significant ongoing costs to the healthcare system.

The Baker Institute in Melbourne estimates that the cost to our healthcare system per year per patient with type 1 diabetes is $3,468. However, complications arising as a result of poor blood sugar control can cause blindness, renal failure, peripheral nerve damage, heart attacks and strokes and lead to amputations. Finger prick tests only provide a snapshot of that exact moment. There is no insight into where blood sugars are going or where they've come from. That means that making decisions is extremely difficult for people who finger prick, which is a vast majority of people in Australia with type 1 diabetes, and can lead to complications because they don't have a proper understanding of where they are at any moment in time.

The Baker Institute further estimates that half of all Australians with diabetes have poor blood sugar control. This significantly increases the likelihood they will suffer any number of debilitating and costly complications. If complications are involved, this causes the cost per patient per year to come up to $6,698. How can we best avoid this impending financial health and social disaster? It is as simple as expanding the National Diabetes Services Scheme to allow all people with type 1 diabetes access to the life-changing technology that is constant glucose monitoring or flash glucose monitoring. The government already subsidises access for people who are under 18 years of age, but as soon as you turn 18 you have no support from the government to continue using this life-saving and life-changing technology.

Diabetes Australia says that outcomes from 50,000 FGM users in Europe shows improved overall diabetes control, improved time in the optimal glucose range and a reduction in incidents of hypoglycaemia and hyperglycaemia. Diabetes Australia says these outcomes reduce the long-term risk of debilitating and expensive diabetes related complications. Thirty-two other countries around the world provide subsidised access to FGM for all people with type 1 diabetes. They don't discriminate in providing affordable access purely on patient age, because it's the right thing to do for the budget and for the health and the social outcomes for themselves and their families.

As the health minister knows, he promised to list FGM on the National Diabetes Services Scheme for people with type 1 diabetes on 1 March. When he made the promise he said that both FGM and CGM would bring peace of mind to Australians with type 1 diabetes and improve their quality of life now and into the future. Yet, people with type 1 diabetes are still waiting for that to be done, despite the promise and despite the peak diabetes body in Australia calling for this funding to go on the NDSS. Why are people over 18 with type 1 diabetes receiving no support from the government to access technology that will save the government and their health system money? The numbers are clear: this is not just an issue of equity for people who are suffering from a lifelong disease; it's about caring for Australians who have to manage their condition every hour of every day.

I want to pay tribute to every single person in Australia with type 1 diabetes and their families and friends. To the parents who look after their small children: you are our champions. I know that complications can strike at any age and I know of the thousands of extra decisions you have to make every single day to manage diabetes that would be helped by this technology. It is time for the government to make good on its promise and fund the technology, like the 32 other countries that have already done so. Supporting people with chronic lifelong diseases should be based on their diagnosis. Their age should not be a deciding factor.