$2.8m funding boost for diabetes programs

The Government has announced it will give a $2.8 million funding boost to tackle diabetes-related foot and eye issues that can cause amputations and blindness.

The funding will be split $1.5 million for the KeepSight program that reminds people with diabetes to get their eyes checked regularly and $1.3 million for the development of a program to help diabetics identify feet problems caused by the condition and find treatment.

Diabetes causes thousands of preventable amputations annually and is the leading cause of blindness in working age Australians.

Each year about 4400 people have to undergo an amputation as a result of issues caused by diabetes. However, about 85 per cent could be avoided if the condition was caught early and managed effectively.

The federal funds will go towards “seed funding” to start building a comprehensive national screening and treatment program called Foot Forward to combat the problem.

It will have a particular focus on regional areas and Indigenous Australians, who are much more likely to have amputations as a result of diabetes.

Earlier this year Diabetes Australia launched KeepSight, a screening program for diabetes-related eye conditions. This was in response to about half of the 1.3 million Australians living with diabetes not having their eyes checked regularly.

As a result eye damage is being identified too late, making treatment more costly and less effective.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the government was also funding diabetes research and paying for medicines via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

“We are aware of the significant impact diabetes has on people and their families, and are doing everything we can in working towards the broad prevention of the disease in the Australian community,” Mr Hunt said.

Mr Hunt said the government will spend more than $1 billion on the National Diabetes Services Scheme that provides information, services and subsidised products to people with the condition over the four years from 2018-19.

Diabetes costs the economy $14 billion a year including treatment costs and lost productivity.

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