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Yukon's type 1 diabetes plan not good enough, says local support group

A member of the group says the government's plans for glucose monitoring fall short of what it's asking for.

Territory's plans for glucose monitoring fall short of what it's asking for, group member says

A continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) device, or called a Dexcom, allows a person with Type 1 diabetes to monitor their blood sugar constantly. (Jackie McKay/CBC )

Members of a diabetes support group in Yukon are furious with the territorial government for choosing to provide flash glucose monitors to adults with Type 1 diabetes rather than monitors that continuously update their condition.

On Monday, a government news release said the flash monitors, which record glucose levels once every eight hours, will be available to adults, fully funded, as of Oct. 1.

Brayden Kulych, who has Type 1 diabetes, said the continuous glucose monitor (CGM) gives him more control over what's happening with his levels all day and night.

The alarms that are a feature of the continuous monitors let him go about his daily work or go to bed at night, he said, knowing that an alarm will go off if there's a problem.

Brayden Kulych is one of the people featured on the Yukon T1D Support Network Facebook page. (Yukon T1D Support Network/Facebook)

Kulych was part of a pilot project that provided him with one of the continuous monitors, but he said that's ending now.

Children, however, up to the age of 18 are now provided with continuous monitors.

Kulych said it's difficult for someone who's had one to suddenly have it taken away.

"You're almost out on your own at that point," he said.

The government says it is willing to put up the annual cost of the flash monitor as a contribution toward a continuous monitor, if a person chooses the latter device and is willing to make up the difference themselves. 

Marney Paradis, the president of the Yukon T1D Support Network, thinks the gap is about $2,000 per year. The government doesn't provide any cost amounts in it's release. 

The release says adults with other medical needs, like dementia, can apply for full coverage of a continuous glucose monitor device. Physicians will apply for coverage on behalf of their patients.

Paradis said the difference between a flash monitor and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) could be the difference between life and death in some circumstances.

The Type 1 Diabetes Support Network has been lobbying the government for more than two years to cover the cost.

Paradis said she still hasn't heard what she believes is a straight answer to why the government won't do it.

"They're funding for a technology that we didn't ask for and since we are going to be getting a CGM eventually, they're going to be now paying for two," said Paradis.

"Because we're not going to stop until we get continuous monitors."

An email to CBC News from the Health and Social Services Department Tuesday said the Territory based its decision on the pilot results but also took into consideration recommendations and evidence from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health.

It also says Yukon is at the forefront of the provinces and territories in the provision of glucose monitoring services. The territory estimates there are up to approximately 250 people in Yukon who have type 1 diabetes.

Laura Syron, president and CEO of Diabetes Canada said in a statement that it commends the Yukon government for adding coverage of flash glucose monitoring for adults and said it encourages other provinces and territories to follow suit.

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