Opposition motion calls for government to create long-term plan to deal with growing number of diabetes cases
© Guardian photo
MLA Hal Perry sports a red MADD ribbon pin on his lapel on his way into legislature in this November 2012 file photo.
Before he got an insulin pump, Terry Lewis had to give himself insulin injections up to six times a day.
He had to measure out the right amount of insulin and find a spot to inject in his arms, legs or even his stomach.
It’s a task Lewis said eventually leads to tissue damage in people who have to take multiple injections every day all year.
“Diabetes is not something that takes a day off,” he said.
Now, with the pump hanging at his hip delivering regimented insulin doses, Lewis’s blood sugar levels are in the normal range, helping him avoid serious complications like heart disease, kidney disease and amputations.
“It’s made a significant difference,” he said.
Lewis, who works for the the Canadian Diabetes Association, is one of more than 13,000 Islanders with diabetes and he was at Province House Tuesday to listen to an opposition motion calling for the government to develop a long-term plan to deal with the growing number of diabetes cases in P.E.I.
The motion passed unanimously.
Opposition house leader Hal Perry introduced the motion and said the overall plan for treating and preventing diabetes in P.E.I. must recognize the costs to the people involved.
“The financial burden of their treatment can often lead to a balancing act when it comes to paying their bills,” he said.
Jake Reid, government relations director for the Canadian Diabetes Association, was also at Province House to hear the motion.
Reid said insulin pumps lead to a better quality of life, they delay health issues that Type 1 diabetes causes and they save the health-care system money in the long run.
“As we can see here, not just here in P.E.I. but everywhere, health expenditures are going through the roof,” he said.
While insulin pumps are part of the issue, Reid said there are other important things the province should consider, including diabetes management and diabetes prevention.
“We need to tackle in a comprehensive way sort of prevention of diabetes, screening for diabetes so people know when they do have it or they’re nearing the warning zone of pre-diabetes and also management of that diabetes,” he said.
According to a brief the association provided the government during pre-budget consultations, diabetes will cost the provincial health-care system about $71 million this year.
That figure doesn’t include the costs to diabetics who have to cover expenses such as medications and supplies.
Although the opposition introduced the motion, Opposition Leader Steven Myers also raised the issue during Tuesday’s question period when he asked Premier Robert Ghiz when the government would start funding insulin pumps, which cost about $5,000.
The diabetes association estimates the benefits of insulin pumps would save the government about $450,000 per year by 2032.
Ghiz said he does want to see the government fund insulin pumps, but he doesn’t know when that will happen.
“It is something we believe is important and hopefully we will be able to make an announcement on that at some point.”
Ghiz said it wasn’t in the latest budget but could be implemented this year if the money becomes available.
“Or it will be one of the priorities moving into our next budget cycle,” he said.