Urgent changes needed to help patients with diabetes: association

Manitoba needs to make immediate changes in "critical areas" to support the growing number of diabetes patients in the province, says the Canadian Diabetes Association.

Number expected to rise 37 per cent over next decade

The Canadian Diabetes Association says changes are needed to keep up with a growing number of diabetes patients in the province. (File Photo)

Manitoba needs to make immediate changes in "critical areas" to support the growing number of diabetes patients in the province, says the Canadian Diabetes Association.

The organization released a new report Monday projecting that over the next 10 years, the number of Manitobans with diabetes will rise by 37 per cent.

According to the latest 2016 numbers, the association found about 121,000 people in the province have diabetes and tens of thousands more have prediabetes or undiagnosed diabetes.

The Canadian Diabetes Association says in order to better support patients, Manitoba needs make several changes, including: increasing medical coverage for insulin pumps, recruiting more endocrinologists to the province, expanding diabetes education centres and developing a provincial policy to support students with diabetes.

"Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in Canada including right here in Manitoba," said Andrea Kwasnicki, Canadian Diabetes Association regional director for Manitoba, in a news release. "If you don't have it, it's likely someone in your family or circle of friends is affected."

CBC reached out to the Manitoba government for a response to the recommendations late on Monday and will update if provided comment.

Diabetes is estimated to cost the province's health care system $114 million a year in direct costs related to the disease, the association said. 

"Not only is the number of people with diabetes growing, but so are the serious complications they experience such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and limb amputation," said Kwasnicki.

Risk factors for diabetes include obesity, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diet.

Indigenous populations are at a higher risk of type 2 diabetes compared to Manitoba's non-Indigenous population.

"Indigenous peoples faces multiple barriers to preventing and effectively managing diabetes, such as food insecurity, high food prices, high prevalence of risk factors that contribute to type 2 diabetes, poor access to programs and services," said the association's report.