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Funding for innovative diabetes improvement projects.

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Media Release

Senator the Hon Kay Patterson Minister for Health and Ageing

27th February, 2003

Funding for Innovative Diabetes Improvement Projects

Early detection of diabetes and better consumer support are the focus of 19 projects to be funded through the National Diabetes Strategy, the Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Kay Patterson, announced today.

"It is estimated that more than 400,000 Australians have Type 2 diabetes but aren't aware of it," Senator Patterson said.

"They risk going blind, developing coronary heart disease or experiencing kidney failure.

"This funding places a strong emphasis on early detection and consumer issues which reflect the Government's commitment to identifying the almost 500,000 Australians who have diabetes and are unaware of their condition.

"A tangible example of a project focusing on diabetes early detection and intervention involves the development and broadcast of diabetes education material to Yolngu people living in north-east Arnhem Land.

"This radio service will provide information to Yolngu people in their own language so that they can gain a complete understanding of diabetes in a culturally appropriate manner."

The National Diabetes Improvement Projects are designed to provide local communities with funding to trial new and innovative strategies to enhance the early detection and management of this serious and burgeoning condition. While some of the projects focus on issues relating to Type 1 diabetes, the majority relate to Type 2, which accounts for 85-90 per cent of all diabetes cases.

"These projects will give people in the community information and advice on how diabetes can be detected and how diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can assist in diabetes management," Senator Patterson said.

People in the community who will most benefit from these projects include: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds; people living in rural and remote areas; women who have, or have had, gestational diabetes; adolescents with diabetes.

"I am delighted that more than half of the projects are for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This is an outstanding result which will assist in addressing the unacceptably high rates of diabetes in these communities," Senator Patterson said.

"Prevalence of Type 2 diabetes is considerably higher among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples then for the whole of the Australian population.

"It may be as high as 30% in some Aboriginal communities, compared with 7% in the general population."

Diabetes is widely considered one of the biggest health issues facing Australians, with recent research estimating that more than one million adults have the condition. This means that since 1981, the number of Australians with diabetes has trebled.

The projects are funded under the $2.168 million per annum National Diabetes Strategy. The strategy aims to improve the general level of health in Australia by reducing the personal and public burden of diabetes nationally.

Media contact:Randal Markey, Media Adviser 0417 694 520