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WHO global diabetes report shows Australia must lift its game

7 April 2016
The World Health Organisation has released its first global diabetes report

Australia should do more to prevent diabetes and provide better care for those living with the disease, according to an author of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) first global diabetes report.

Professor Stephen Colagiuri from the University of Sydney’s Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise & Eating Disorders is the only Australian contributor to the inaugural WHO Global Report on Diabetes, released today.

The report reveals the enormous scale of the global diabetes epidemic, and paints a detailed picture of global trends in the prevalence and burden of the disease. It also calls for greater action from governments around the world to prevent and control diabetes and tackle the rising costs associated with the epidemic.

Australia certainly needs to lift its game in order to reach United Nations targets of a zero percent increase in diabetes and obesity by 2025, of which we are a voluntary signatory.
Professor Stephen Colagiuri

“This report is a reminder that we need to better cater for communities who aren’t receiving the type of attention and access to essential care for diabetes they need,” said Professor Colagiuri, a leading expert in diabetes screening and prevention from the Sydney Medical School.

“Even in Australia, a country with universal health coverage, we have particular groups like Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and people from certain culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who have needs similar to those in developing countries.

“For remote communities, access to quality care, essential medicines and technologies can be problematic. Their rates of diabetes and complication such as kidney disease, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, still remain among the highest in the world.”

Professor Colagiuri will share his key contributions to the WHO report at the World Health Day on Diabetes Seminar at the Charles Perkins Centre tomorrow.

According to the WHO report, the number of people worldwide with diabetes has quadrupled since 1980, with an estimated 422 million adults living with the disease in 2014. Globally, diabetes and higher-than-optimal blood glucose together caused 3.7 million deaths. Yet only one in three low- and middle-income countries are able to provide basic technologies for diagnosing and managing diabetes, the report states.

“Access to essential medicines such as life-saving insulin as well as adequate screening technologies is extremely limited in low- and middle-income countries,” Professor Colagiuri said.

“While we tend to think of countries as fairly uniform in health provision, it’s important to note that certain communities in Australia are faring just as badly as those in less developed countries.

“Australia certainly needs to lift its game in order to reach United Nations targets of a zero percent increase in diabetes and obesity by 2025, of which we are a voluntary signatory.”

Joining Professor Colagiuri at tomorrow’s World Health Day on Diabetes Seminar are:

  • Professor Stephen Twigg, Kellion Professor of Endocrinology and Stan Clark Chair in Diabetes at the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre
  • Sturt Eastwood (chair), CEO of Diabetes NSW
  • Bridget Foley, Ambassador for Diabetes NSW
  • Professor Stephen Simpson (opening remarks), Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney

Event details 

What: World Health Day on Diabetes Seminar  
When: 12pm to 1pm, Thursday 7 April 2016 
Where: Level 6 Seminar Room, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney
Cost: Free, online registration requested

Co-presented by the WHO Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity, Nutrition & Obesity and the Charles Perkins Centre.

Emily Cook

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