“Diabetes is an epidemic, and we need a national plan to get it under control”. This statement was published online by CBC.ca, While this is the opinion of their writer, Brooks Roche, after reading the following information, you may agree.
Canada lists diabetes as the second most concerning illness in the country after cancer. Yet there are more than 11-million Canadians living with this disease. That comes out to 1 in 3 people who live in Canada. That is a rise in a 10-year period of 42%. Ontario has more diabetic citizens than any other city in the country, and people are asking the government to help.
An epidemic is defined as follows: Epidemic refers to an increase, often sudden, in the number of cases of a disease above what is normally expected in that population in that area.
What is Diabetes?
The pancreas in our bodies produces a hormone called insulin. This hormone regulates your metabolism and breaks down the glucose (sugar) in your body which allows it to enter the cells. This is what gives the body energy. Excess glucose is stored in the liver to be used between meals when your levels of glucose are dropping. When the pancreas does not produce insulin, the condition is called type 1 diabetes. Since a person must have insulin to live, they will have to take insulin injections. They will have to monitor their glucose levels and eat and live in a way that supports the system by keeping blood sugars normal.
Sometimes the body produces insulin, but not in enough quantities to maintain the levels needed. Sometimes, there is a malfunction, and the body doesn’t use the insulin it produces efficiently. This is called type 2 diabetes. It can be treated in various ways. Sometimes lowering body weight will help, depending on the severity of the diabetes. The plan for all type 2 diabetics is diet and exercise. Sometimes, oral medication is necessary. And in severe cases, insulin injections will be needed.
There are other types of diabetes, but these two are the most common.
What does it cost?
In the year 2015, the government of Canada spent $15-billion on direct care of diabetes. It had been projected that in this decade they would spend $40-billion, but that was before COVID. COVID has a more serious effect on the diabetic population than others. Diabetics are twice as likely to catch COVID and three times as likely to die from it. Added to the fact that a diabetic has a life expectancy of 13 years earlier than a non-diabetic, this is a very dangerous situation.
Patients in Ontario explain that the added expense of treatment is difficult, to say the least. In Ontario, 9 out of 10 patients are taking insulin or medication. Around 70% of the diabetics in this area admit that it is difficult to pay for their health care bills and one-third of the patients are paying for their expenses out of pocket.
Diabetics have needs. These are not luxuries. Access to healthy food, proper shoes, medical care, and safe avenues of exercise is life and death. Some companies help. Ascensia Diabetes Care has been helping diabetics since the 1940s. Before there were meters, they created strips that could test a diabetic when dipped in urine. They came out with the first blood monitor and the first portable blood monitor. Now they have meters and supplies that will fit into anyone’s. For example, they offer the Contour Next USB meter free for those who qualify. Their desire is that no diabetic has health issues for lack of equipment.
Photo credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich
What can the government help with now?
When asked, the following suggestions were made that would be helpful to patients:
More access to virtual medical visits
Be more proactive in monitoring patients
Provide them with healthy places to live and work
Make it mandatory that people get tested for diabetes before taking a job
These and many more ideas are covered in the Diabetes 360 program. This must be implemented quickly. The cost to the government and the employers of the diabetics is too great. Finally, the cost of quality of life and life itself is way more than anyone needs to pay. It is time that we all get on the same page and stop just treating the symptoms. Who knows, there could be a cure around the corner. But until we become proactive in heading off the problem, we will be unlikely to turn it around. Unless the government experts, medical professionals, adults dealing with the disease, and the patients start working together, we will not be able to find a control point. We can only hope that somehow we gain control soon.
If you have diabetes, please go to Diabetics.ca for information on webinars, publications, and events.