Peak Bodies and Patients Give Evidence at Inquiry and Commentary on Diabetes Technology

The House of Representative’s Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport has held the first public hearing for the new inquiry into Diabetes in Australia, headed by chair Dr Mike Freelander MP and deputy chair Melissa McIntosh MP.  

The inquiry heard from peak representative bodies, such as Diabetes Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Testimonials were also given from individuals with lived experience of diabetes, including 15 year old Lindsay local and JDRF ambassador Emily.

Diabetes is a multi-type group of diseases which include Type 1, Type 2, gestational diabetes, and other rare forms. The inquiry is set to investigate the causes of the disease and the broader impacts of diabetes in Australia. 

Mike Wilson, CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, shared that JDRF wants to see a better understanding of Type 1 across the nation, and trusts that present research will help clarify the scope of the human, clinical, and financial burden. Mr Wilson shared that currently Australia has an opportunity to build on the research made to date and make steps towards a cure for Type 1 through future investment. 

Mrs McIntosh expressed her concern for the growing impact of diabetes in Australia, particularly the growing prevalence of Type 1 (134,000) which is an autoimmune disease.

“It is concerning that we are seeing a rise in Type 1 diabetes in young people. One of the people we heard from was Emily, a Glenmore Park local from Lindsay, who has lived with Type 1 since being diagnosed at 2 years of age,” said Mrs McIntosh.

“My son Byron was also recently diagnosed with Type 1 after contracting COVID-19, and he and our family are adapting to the new reality of living with this autoimmune disease.

“Type 1 currently has no cure or prevention. Although there is new technology such as Continual Glucose Monitoring devices which make it easier for people like Emily and Byron to go about their daily lives, Emily shared with the Committee that she hopes there will be a day where she can be free from diabetes, needles, and anxiety.

“We must investigate how we can deliver better outcomes for diabetes treatment and management, including investment into medical technologies, and ensure equitable access to life-saving products delivered through the National Diabetes Services Scheme.

“I am concerned to hear about the short deadline for the National Diabetes Services Scheme tendering process for one such life-saving technology, Continuous Glucose Monitoring devices, which closes this month. This gives the diabetes community a very small window to be consulted on.

“I had previously raised my concern regarding this in Parliament, especially when we are going through a major inquiry into diabetes that might uncover new technologies.

“I also note that FIASP, a fast-acting insulin that allows children and adults to quickly metabolise insulin so they can go about everyday activities with minimised downtime, is also set to be axed from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, despite the diabetes community calling on the Government for it to remain.

“I am running a campaign to keep FIASP affordable for 15,000 families, and I also spoke on this matter in Parliament.

After the inquiry concludes, the Committee will report on implementing new research, strategies, and technology advancements for the prevention, diagnosis, and management of diabetes.

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