Let's implement and fund the Diabetes Framework

  • National Newswatch

Diabetes is one of Canada's most successful diseases. With 640 new cases daily, 26 per hour, or 1 every 3 minutes, it's not slowing down. Diabetes and its related complications cost our healthcare system almost $50 million per day. And at a global level, the World Health Organization (WHO) has identified diabetes as a major public health challenge of the 21st century.Returning to the issue of complications, diabetes contributes to 30% of strokes, 40% of heart attacks, 50% of kidney failure requiring dialysis, 70% of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations, and is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Canada.As Canada slowly emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that people with diabetes experienced delayed or deferred care, leading to a higher risk of short- and long-term complications which, in time, may lead to poorer health outcomes.Through a social determinants of health lens, we also know that people in Canada who are older, have lower levels of income or education, are physically inactive, or living with overweight or obesity are at a higher risk to develop type 2 diabetes as are certain sub-populations including those of those of Indigenous, African, Arab, Asian, Hispanic, and South Asian descent.However, there is currently no standard in place for this kind of information to be gathered consistently across Canada. This leaves us with major gaps in coordination of reporting on diabetes in Canada, including the number of people with diabetes who are undiagnosed, management of the disease, prevention of and screening for complications, the proportion of the population receiving specific programs or supports, and the health outcomes they are experiencing as a result.While we are working to understand – and close – the gaps in diabetes data through better coordination of reporting, more needs to be done. You cannot effectively manage or improve what you do not consistently measure …  not in business, not in government, and most certainly not in healthcare.For the past five years, Diabetes Canada, in collaboration with more than one hundred stakeholders across the country, has led the charge to develop a framework to address the diabetes epidemic. And last month, the Hon. Jean-Yves Duclos (Minister of Health), tabled a Framework for Diabetes in Canada. A framework that has its genesis in work done by the All-Party Diabetes Caucus of parliamentarians, supported in reports from the Finance (FINA) and Health (HESA) Committees.This tabling was an important and welcome step for the 1 in 3 of us that live with diabetes or prediabetes, some 11.7 million people in Canada.Now, we have the opportunity, and the obligation, to capitalize on this momentum through implementation and funding the Diabetes Framework in Budget 2023, bother federally and in the provinces and territories, to begin a process of transformative change for people with diabetes, their families, and their healthcare providers. Key elements of the Framework can also serve as a template and catalyst for a broader approach for nation-wide chronic disease prevention and management.Along with better data sharing and coordination, supporting the Framework will require: adequate resources and innovative funding models, to provide improved access to diabetes medications, devices, and supplies; sustained funding of impactful research into diabetes management and new treatments; and the creation of an independent, multi-sectoral oversight body to convene public and private stakeholders and drive consequent actions, develop performance indicators, share best practices, and report annually on implementation progress against key principles, such as health equity and scalability to other chronic diseases.These investments will give millions of people in Canada living with diabetes the promise of living longer, healthier, and happier lives.Russell Williams is Senior Vice-President, Mission, Diabetes Canada.