En­sure treat­ment ac­cess for di­a­bet­ics

OUR ED­I­TO­RIAL: WHAT WE THINK

Lethbridge Herald - - READER'S FORUM -

Tues­day was World Di­a­betes Day, rec­og­niz­ing a health prob­lem that af­fects close to one in 10 Cana­di­ans. It’s es­ti­mated that by 2025, the con­di­tion will af­fect five mil­lion Cana­di­ans, or just over 12 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. And that doesn’t in­clude the es­ti­mated 22 per cent of Cana­di­ans who have pre­di­a­betes con­di­tions.

This is a health mat­ter that needs to be taken se­ri­ously. Di­a­betes Canada points out that di­a­betes com­pli­ca­tions are associated with pre­ma­ture death, with an es­ti­mated one of 10 deaths in Cana­dian adults at­trib­ut­able to di­a­betes in 2008-09.

The In­ter­na­tional Di­a­betes Fed­er­a­tion web­site notes that the theme for this year’s World Di­a­betes Day is “Women and di­a­betes — our right to a healthy fu­ture.” The aware­ness cam­paign’s fo­cus is to “pro­mote the im­por­tance of af­ford­able and eq­ui­table ac­cess for all women at risk for or liv­ing with di­a­betes to the es­sen­tial di­a­betes medicines and tech­nolo­gies, self­man­age­ment ed­u­ca­tion and in­for­ma­tion...”

There are two types of di­a­betes. Type 1 di­a­betes (pre­vi­ously known as ju­ve­nile-on­set or in­sulin-de­pen­dent di­a­betes) ac­counts for five to 10 per cent of peo­ple with di­a­betes, while Type 2 di­a­betes (for­merly called adult-on­set or non-in­sulin­de­pen­dent di­a­betes) can de­velop at any age but most com­monly be­comes ev­i­dent in adult­hood.

Ide­ally, ev­ery­one deal­ing with di­a­betes should have full ac­cess to the med­i­ca­tions and de­vices they re­quire, but that’s not al­ways the case. A re­port from the Cana­dian Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion called “The Bur­den of Out-of-Pocket Costs for Cana­di­ans” ex­plains that “57 per cent of Cana­di­ans with di­a­betes say they do not com­ply with their pre­scribed ther­apy be­cause they can­not af­ford their med­i­ca­tions, de­vices and sup­plies, thus po­ten­tially com­pro­mis­ing their di­a­betes man­age­ment.”

That’s be­cause gov­ern­ment cov­er­age of di­a­betes med­i­ca­tions, de­vices and sup­plies varies from prov­ince to prov­ince, the re­port says, leav­ing some of the costs for th­ese sup­ports be­ing di­rectly shoul­dered by peo­ple with di­a­betes in or­der to man­age their con­di­tion ef­fec­tively.

The re­port notes th­ese costs are es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult for low-in­come Cana­di­ans, in­clud­ing those “who do not re­ceive so­cial as­sis­tance, se­niors on fixed in­comes, or those who have high drug costs but do not qual­ify for other forms of as­sis­tance.”

Not cov­er­ing those costs re­ally isn’t sav­ing the health sys­tem any money be­cause, as the re­port points out, lack of ac­cess to such sup­ports “can in­crease the risk for costly, lifethreat­en­ing di­a­betes-re­lated com­pli­ca­tions.” So what is be­ing saved now can lead to mul­ti­plied costs far­ther down the road.

If money can be found to pro­vide safe drug sup­plies and safe in­jec­tion sites for drug users, why can’t money be made avail­able to peo­ple who are deal­ing with a prob­lem they didn’t choose to have?

The CDA’s re­port urges gov­ern­ments to en­hance ex­ist­ing fi­nan­cial sup­ports, such as the Dis­abil­ity Tax Credit, and to en­sure ac­cess and af­ford­abil­ity of di­a­betes med­i­ca­tions, de­vices and sup­plies for those with di­a­betes.

Do­ing so not only makes sense from a health-care stand­point, but, in the long run, fi­nan­cially as well.

Com­ment on this ed­i­to­rial on­line at www.leth­bridge­herald.com/ opin­ions/.

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