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Government to consider nationwide survey on incidence and prevalence of Diabetes

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Media release The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge Minister for Health and Family Services MW 130/97 14 November 1997


Federal Health and Family Services Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, today announced that the Federal Government would provide $100,000 to fund preliminary research to determine the costs and benefits o f a National Incidence and Prevalence Survey o f diabetes in Australia.

Addressing the International Diabetes Institute luncheon in Melbourne on World Diabetes Day, D r Wooldridge said the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Diabetes (MACOD), which he established in 1996, has recommended the research as a first step in the development o f a

plan o f action to offset the delibilitating effects of diabetes.

“Only about half o f the 650,000 to 700,000 Australians with diabetes actually know they have the disease and can take action to control their health and prevent the more serious effects that diabetes can lead to,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“Clearly we need to know more about those Australians who have diabetes, where they live, their ethnic background other socio-demographic factors so that educational and preventative programs can be more effectively targeted.

“This research is a critical step in the development o f a proper plan o f action to take early, preventative measures in particular to offset the debilitating effects o f diabetes,” he said.

The research will be carried out by a team from the Australian Diabetes Foundation led by Dr Tim Welbom, and Dr Dan McCarty from the International Diabetes Institute.

D r Wooldridge said he was proud that the importance o f diabetes as a major public health issue had been raised since the Coalition Government came to office in March 1996.

“Diabetes is likely to affect 110 million people worldwide by the year 2010, and I believe that Australia can build upon our already substantial leadership in research to identify better forms o f treatment and even, potentially, a cure for this disease,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“Last year, for the first time in Australia's history, diabetes was elevated in rank and made our fifth National Health Priority Area. We've also established a National Diabetes Strategy and formed the Ministerial Advisory Council on Diabetes to advise me directly on the best ways to . prevent diabetes and, failing that, to ensure that those people with diabetes are diagnosed early

and treated well,” he said.

Dr Wooldridge also welcomed the appointment o f Dr Max de Courten as the International Diabetes Institute's Director o f Clinical Research, a three-year position funded by Coles Myer.

Media Contact: Bill Royce, Dr Wooldridge's office (02) 6277 7220