Government needs to work with, not against, diabetics

Diabetics deserve a break, says Labour’s Health spokesperson, Maryan Street.

Speaking to the second international diabetes forum for World Diabetes Day in Dunedin today, Maryan Street urged the Government to work with, not against diabetics.

"Under National, successful diabetes prevention programmes including Healthy Eating, Health Action (HEHA), Nutrition guidelines for school tuck shops, and the Get Checked programme have been scrapped and diabetics themselves have had their opinions about their treatment ignored by the Government.

“This term, National has made life difficult for diabetics by changing the subsidised blood glucose meters - which both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics use daily – despite overwhelming opposition.

“Diabetics, whose lives often revolve around these devices, were only consulted in five public meetings held by Pharmac as pro forma exercises.

“The Government approved Pharmac's shift to a sole supplier of the meters, which initially offered an inferior product to the one already used by 80% of New Zealand diabetics.

“This is a dangerous and untested move. Medical devices are unlike pharmaceuticals in that they are not subject to the same rigorous trials before approval. Contacting a sole supplier also provides disincentives to improve the supplier's product, as existed under the previous system.

"New Zealand is facing a current and future crisis of epidemic proportions in diabetes.

“Parents of children with diabetes have expressed their deep anxiety about their children's wellbeing to me.  New blood glucose meters, new smaller test strips, less support from local Diabetes offices -  which have had to close in parts of the country -  and fewer community-based physical activity and health eating programmes, are among their concerns.

"On World Diabetes Day, I want to pay a tribute to all those diabetics and parents of diabetics who live with this life-threatening illness on a daily basis. I also take my hat off to the experts in this area who struggle on despite the Government's woeful neglect of this most serious of epidemics,” Maryan Street said.