The rapid growth of diabetes in British Columbia combined with serious gaps in health-care need to be urgently addressed by the incoming provincial government, says a new report from Diabetes Canada.
Over the past 10 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in British Columbia has increased by roughly 74 per cent. A report released today from Diabetes Canada, 2017 Report on Diabetes in British Columbia, notes that currently 1.4 million British Columbians—or 29 per cent of the population—are now living with diabetes or prediabetes. Approximately 21,000 of those diagnosed with diabetes live with type 1 diabetes.
Over the next decade, the province is projected to experience a 44 per cent increase in diabetes prevalence, which will be the second largest increase among Canadian provinces.
Diabetes is not only a serious human health issue, it is also a burden on the economy costing British Columbia’s health-care system $418 million a year in direct costs including hospitalizations, doctor visits and emergency room visits.
“Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in British Columbia,” says Sheila Kern, regional director for British Columbia and Yukon with Diabetes Canada. “This new report highlights the seriousness of this disease, gaps in care and the critical need for the incoming government to take immediate action and make diabetes a policy priority.”
Risk factors such as high rates of overweight and obese adults and a high representation of high-risk ethnic-cultural groups will continue to drive type 2 diabetes prevalence in the province. Half of all adults in British Columbia are overweight or obese, and most do not consume enough fruits or vegetables.
People of South Asian and Chinese descent make up 7.3 per cent and 10 per cent of British Columbia’s population, respectively. The province also has the second highest representation from Indigenous Peoples, 16.6 per cent, in Canada. The prevalence of type 2 diabetes among these groups has consistently been reported to be higher than the general Canadian population.
Diabetes Canada’s report outlines three major areas of support needed to help those living with diabetes in the province:
- Expand the financial coverage for insulin pumps to all individuals with type 1 diabetes who are medically eligible, regardless of age;
- Broaden PharmaCare coverage for effective diabetes medications;
- Commit to public funding of offloading devices and foot care specialist visits, and improve screening for diabetic foot ulcers and education.
“By improving access to care, medications and devices, we can improve the health outcomes of British Columbians and decrease long-term health-care costs,” says Kern. “Diabetes Canada is working hard to support the health of Canadians through education, research, advocacy, improved treatments and prevention.
I am hopeful the personal stories shared in this new report will get the much-needed attention of the incoming government to initiate positive policy changes to improve the lives of people with or at risk of diabetes in this province.”
About diabetes | Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body either cannot produce insulin or cannot properly use the insulin it produces. This leads to high levels of blood glucose (sugar), which over time can result in serious complications. In prediabetes, a person’s blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Nearly half of those with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes. For people with diabetes, keeping healthy requires a balance of nutrition and physical activity along with medication if prescribed and monitoring of blood sugar levels.
About Diabetes Canada | Diabetes Canada is the registered national charitable organization that is making the invisible epidemic of diabetes visible and urgent. Diabetes Canada partners with Canadians to End Diabetes through:
- Educational programs and support services;
- Resources for health-care professionals on best practices to care for people with diabetes;
- Advocacy to governments, schools and workplaces; and
- Funding world-leading Canadian research to improve treatments and find a cure.
For more information, visit diabetes.ca or call 1-800-BANTING (226-8464).