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New research study, new steps in fight against diabetes.

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Media Release

The Hon Dr Michael Wooldridge, MP

Minister for Health and Aged Care



20 April 1999



Dr Michael Wooldridge, Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care today launched Australia’ s first national diabetes prevalence study which is designed to help find the estimated 350,000 Australians who have undiagnosed diabetes and to provide much needed information on those Australians who have the condition.

“Diabetes is a serious condition. When undiagnosed and untreated, diabetes can lead not only to a substantially increased risk of blindness, but also to heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and diabetic foot disease -which in turn can lead to gangrene and amputation if not properly managed,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“If diabetes is detected and treated early these complications can be prevented.

“This new prevalence study will help provide us with the most accurate information we’ve ever had about the incidence of diabetes in Australia which is estimated to affect some 800,000 Australians.

“It will be especially helpful in giving us for the first time clear, definitive data from which can be calculated the prevalence of undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes and its precursors which include obesity, high cholesterol and hypertension,” Dr Wooldridge said.

The study, known formally as the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study, ( AusDiab ), will be coordinated by the Melbourne based International Diabetes Institute, whose CEO is Professor Paul Zimmet AM. The Institute will work closely with the Diabetes Centre at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth, headed by Professor Timothy Welborn.

Dr Wooldridge said the Federal Government was providing $700,000 toward the project and welcomed the active partnership and support of over half a million dollars that private industry was providing to the study.

“It is especially significant that together with the government, seven major pharmaceutical companies have provided generous funding support,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“I recently received a series of recommendations in relation to Australia’s health and medical research focused on how to strengthen the link between our research effort and the delivery of health care and how best Australia could develop a community of researchers, industry and government to deliver the best health outcomes for all Australians.

“The AusDiab lifestyle study shows us that government investment in medical research, combined with industry support and participation, can actually contribute directly to the health of the population while at the same time, making a significant contribution to our understanding of our health needs,” Dr Wooldridge said.

Dr Wooldridge said that the AusDiab study forms just one part of the Government’s comprehensive approach to tackling diabetes.

“Not only is diabetes a new national health priority area but a new national plan will be formally considered for adoption by all Australian Health Ministers at a meeting in July,” Dr Wooldridge said.

“The AusDiab study will be complemented by the Community Awareness Strategy in mid-year. Together, they will raise public understanding of diabetes and promote its early diagnosis and management.

“This message of prevention and early treatment is one that needs to be developed - and heeded - as is clear in the way we are tackling the issue of blindness due to diabetes.

“Up until recently, Australia has not been able to point to the same successes that some Scandinavian countries have been reporting in preventing diabetic retinopathy. Blindness due to diabetes can be and will be stopped.

“I am pleased that over the last year we have embarked on a major new vision impairment project which aims to prevent and better manage diabetic retinopathy by improving screening, education, referral and treatment.

“We are working with the States and Territories, GPs, optometrists and ophthalmologists so that we can repeat the experiences learnt internationally and apply them in Australia,” Dr Wooldridge said.

Dr Wooldridge said that plans are close to completion to run a major pilot program to trial more effective ways of testing people living in remote indigenous communities using DCA 2000 monitors.

“Indigenous Australians are at high risk of diabetes and this new measure will mean means that unreliable, intermittent testing procedures will be replaced and test results will be known within minutes - ensuring patient counselling and treatment can begin virtually immediately. This is vital to improving the health of people in those communities,” Dr Wooldridge said.

Dr Wooldridge thanked all those who work at the IDI in Melbourne and the Diabetes Centre at Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Perth for their leadership on the issue of diabetes and for their commitment in making this study happen.

Media Contact:  

Peter Collins, Dr Wooldridge’s office, on 0412.243.152.

[Attachment to hard copy:

The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AUSDIAB) 1999-2000 , Media Backgrounder, Tuesday 20 April [3p]

Held in DPL's Information Files]




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