Just days ahead of World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Canada is in Ottawa to release new survey results of an Ipsos Public Affairs and Diabetes Canada opinion poll and to meet with Parliamentarians to shed light on the growing diabetes epidemic in Canada. The national opinion poll of Canadians, including those living with or caring for someone with diabetes, findings show that the majority of Canadians are supportive of a Government that will implement a nation-wide diabetes strategy that could prevent millions of Canadians from developing diabetes or its complications by enhancing prevention, screening and treatment of diabetes, all with a goal of improving the health of Canadians. Three-quarters of those closest to the disease said they’re more likely to support a political party that prioritized implementing a national diabetes strategy (76%). Reinforcing our concern, the findings also show that about half (49%) of Canadians have a family member living with diabetes.
These findings echo what Diabetes Canada and a coalition of diabetes organizations, health experts, researchers, Indigenous groups and patient advocates have been calling for in its Diabetes 360. Diabetes 360˚is spearheaded by Diabetes Canada and has been developed with 100 stakeholder organizations, patient advocates as well as government representation from nine provinces and a working group led by and focused on the unique needs of Indigenous Peoples.
“Never has the need for a bold, coordinated, multi-sectoral response to preventing, screening for and managing diabetes been greater,” said Dr. Jan Hux, President and CEO of Diabetes Canada. “Diabetes is a complex and often misunderstood or underestimated disease. In the face of this epidemic, something must change.” Canadians appear to agree. According to the survey, among those either living with diabetes, or a caregiver for someone with diabetes, only four in 10 believe government provides enough support.
Parliamentarians are now recognizing the impact diabetes is having on Canadians and have been advocating for a new approach to address the diabetes epidemic. Sonia Sidhu, Member of Parliament for Brampton South is the Chair of the All Party Diabetes Caucus and said, “five million Canadians currently have diabetes – a lifelong, debilitating illness – and another six million have prediabetes, which means they are likely to develop the disease unless something changes. Treating this disease costs our healthcare system $27 billion per year, and those costs will rise to $40 billion within a decade unless something is done. That’s why I believe we need a nation-wide strategy to address the diabetes epidemic.”
Diabetes Canada and supporters are asking the Government of Canada in the 2019 to establish a national partnership and invest $150 million in funding over seven years. The partnership, which would consist of all levels of government, the private sector and civil society, and work with provinces and territories to implement the Diabetes 360˚ targets in a manner tailored to each jurisdiction. Concurrently, the federal government should facilitate the creation of an Indigenous-specific framework led and owned by Indigenous groups.
Dr. Jean-Pierre Despres, Université Laval was in Ottawa with Diabetes Canada to meet with Parliamentarians and brought to Ottawa’s Parliament Hill a mobile screening unit, similar in size to that of a coach bus, to show how Canadians can be and should be screened where they live or work. “Canadians need to pay attention to their lifestyle vital signs that are key drivers of their type 2 diabetes risk, said Despres. “This is why screening and prevention interventions should be supported by diabetes 360˚. I am in strong support a nation-wide strategy for diabetes.”
The Diabetes Canada and Ipsos Public Affairs survey findings also show:
- Although people with diabetes account for 40 per cent of heart attacks, only seven percent of those surveyed knew this and 45% not knowing at all and 44 per cent believing it was less than 40 per cent.
- Canadians also were unaware that those now aged 20 have a 50% chance of developing diabetes, with just 7 per cent knowing this.
- There may be a disconnect between what doctors offer patients in terms of diabetes screening and what patients believe they are receiving. The majority of those surveyed did not discuss diabetes or a family history of diabetes with their family physician (53%) including those over age 50 (51%).
- A third or 32 per cent of those living with or caring for someone with diabetes have missed work due to the disease, including 15 per cent of those that have left the workforce because of it.
- For Canadians who understand the severity of diabetes, 8 in 10 (82%) rank diabetes as one of the top three diseases that should be prioritized by the Government of Canada, on par with cancer (85%). For those that didn’t, it is still ranked in the top three of diseases that should be prioritized.
- Seven in 10 of those touched by diabetes (living with the disease or caregivers) feel it is difficult to pay for health care bills related to diabetes (71%), with 1 in 4 strongly agreeing with this statement (24%). So, it is not surprising that among those either living with diabetes, or a caregiver for someone with diabetes, 6 in 10 disagree that the government provides enough support for the care of people living with diabetes (60%).
- Over 8 in 10 Canadians agree we should be more concerned about diabetes in Canada (84%), with 3 in 4 believing it is on the rise in Canada (74%). And, 90% of seniors (those over 55) believe we should be more concerned.
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