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Thursday, 2 December 1976

Mr Fry asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:

(1)   How many people were suffering from diabetes in each State and Territory during each of the years 1970 to 1976 inclusive.

(2)   What percentage of the population do these figures represent

(3)   What facilities has his Department made available for the treatment of diabetes in Australia.

(4)   Is diabetes on the increase in Australia.

(5)   What overseas research into diabetes, both government and private, is being monitored in Australia.

Mr Hunt -The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The precise number of people suffering from Diabetes mellitus in each State and Territory during the years 1970. to 1976 inclusive, is not available; there is no regular collection of such data in Australia since Diabetes mellitus is not a notifiable disease. The Australian Bureau of Statistics conducted a household sample survey in 1974 from which estimates of persons suffering from chronic illnesses, injuries and impairments have been derived. The number of persons reported suffering from Diabetes mellitus per 1000 of estimated population was 6.2 representing 0.6 per cent of the Australian population. These estimates are subject to variability due to a sample rather than the whole population having been enumerated and the fact that the information provided by informants may not have been based on diagnosis by medical practitioners and excludes cases where the respondent was not aware of the condition or chose not to disclose it.

(3)   Although there are special diabetic clinics in some hospitals and similar institutions, generally speaking persons suffering from this condition are treated by their own doctor.

Cost for treatment and pathological tests can be claimed under Medibank arrangements. Insulin and other drugs used in treatment are available under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, free of charge to eligible pensioners and to others on payment of a $2 patient contribution. A range of diagnostic reagents necessary for patients in the management ofthe disease is also available under the same conditions as above.

The Government has provided funds under the Community Health Program for a Regional Diabetic Service operating from the Royal North Shore Hospital, Sydney. The aim of this Service is to identify management problems in diabetic patients referred from their doctors and to motivate and educate the patients and their families to adhere to their prescribed management regimen.

Funds provided by the Government for this purpose are as follows:


In 1973-74 Commonwealth funds under the Community Health Program were provided on the basis of 100 per cent funding. In subsequent years, funds have been provided on the basis of 75 per cent of capital costs and 90 per cent of operating costs, the remainder being provided by the State Government

In 1976-77 a block grant of $29.4m was allocated to New South Wales for projects under the Community Health Program. The Regional Diabetic Service will receive funds under this block grant to the State.

(4)   Data based on the prescription of anti-diabetic drugs and entitlement applications from ex-service personnel from both world wars would seem to indicate that there has been an increase in prevalence over the past 15-30 years. However, this cannot be confirmed by the data available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, whose data are limited to records of death certification and estimates derived from the household sample surveys.

(5)   Overseas research into Diabetes mellitus is constantly being monitored by Australian diabetologists and others. Diabetic research has been, and is still being undertaken in Australia. Many such research projects are supported by the Government through grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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