© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Liz MacArthur, regional chairwoman P.E.I. and Terry Lewis, Canadian Diabetes Association, display the Diabetes Charter for Canada, released by the Canadian Diabetes Association across the country Monday on World Health Day. The Charter aims to empower Canadians with diabetes and their caregivers.
Parent talks about need to strengthen awareness and education on P.E.I.
Liz MacArthur doesn’t want to see more children discriminated against just because they suffer from diabetes.
There were audible gasps from the room when the regional chairwoman (P.E.I.) of the Canadian Diabetes Association recounted at a news conference in Charlottetown on Monday about some of the problems her diabetic son, Liam, has gone through in school.
“One time his sugar was high and (the teacher) literally sent him outside alone and made him run around the school because they thought if they did that it would get rid of the sugar in his blood and his reading would come down, which it didn’t so they called us,’’ MacArthur said of her son, then in elementary school. “We were completely appalled. You’re talking discrimination.’’
Then there was the time Liam’s cellphone, specially designed to contact his parents right away in the event his sugar was low, was taken away by another teacher. That day his sugar was low.
Or, the teacher that told him not to check his blood in class “because that will gross them out’’.
MacArthur wanted to stress that she doesn’t want to paint all teachers with the same brush but felt it was important to list some of what her son has gone through.
The news conference was to unveil a national Diabetes Charter for Canada, laying out what the association believes are the rights and responsibilities of patients, governments, health care providers and schools.
Terry Lewis, manager of community engagement for the Atlantic Canadian branch of the association, said the goal with the charter is to create one standard across the board.
“Across Canada there is a significant difference from province to province on the coverages and accessibility of diabetes programs and services and devices and supplies,’’ Lewis said. “Our goal nationwide is to have, no matter where you live, equal access to the tools and resources.’’
Lewis said P.E.I. has some very good programs in place but there is work to be done — the province needs to add long lasting insulins to the provincial formulary because Islanders who don’t have health coverage aren’t covered.
Lewis said the Island needs an insulin pump program. It’s the only province without one in Canada.
There was some hint on Monday that one is coming.
Health Minister Doug Currie was at the news conference and while he didn’t commit to a pump program he strongly hinted that one might be coming in today’s provincial budget.
“One time his sugar was high and (the teacher) literally sent him outside alone and made him run around the school because they thought if they did that it would get rid of the sugar in his blood and his reading would come down, which it didn’t so they called us,’’ Liz MacArthur
“We’ll be formulating a number of new initiatives,’’ Currie said. “The premier did make a statement in the fall sitting (of the P.E.I. legislature) regarding the support for insulin pumps. The budget comes out (today) so that will be another initiative that we’ll be building into a provincial strategy.’’
Trish Collins, an RN who works with diabetics, said many of the patients she talks to feel guilty for having the disease. Collins said she hopes government would continue to keep in mind that parents without drug plans are challenged to pay for treatment.
MacArthur said creating awareness around diabetes is huge.
“(What happened to Liam) were isolated incidents but they have a huge impact on a child. Education, we really need to work on that. I hope this charter does that,’’ MacArthur said.
JUST THE FACTS
- 14,360 Islanders have some form of diabetes. That’s 9.4 per cent of the province’s population.
- More than 20,950 Islanders are expected to have diabetes by 2024. That will account for 12.6 per cent of the population.
- Health Minister Doug Currie said only one-third of Islanders who have diabetes are accessing programs.
- Estimated type 1 diabetes prevalence on P.E.I. is 656 people this year, expected to grow to 739 by 2024.
- Estimated prediabetes prevalence in P.E.I. (20 years of age and older) - 26,400 (24.7 per cent) this year; 28,800 (25.7 per cent) by 2024.
- Estimated cost of diabetes in P.E.I. - $69 million this year; $84 million by 2024.
- Estimated annual out of pocket cost for type 1 diabetes in P.E.I. without a pump, based on $43,000 annual income - $1,564.58.
- Estimated annual out of pocket cost for type 2 diabetes in P.E.I., based on $43,000 annual income - $3,036.31.
- Estimated diabetes prevalence increase - 46 per cent from 2014-24.
Estimated diabetes cost increase - 21 per cent from 2014-24.
- For more information on the national charter, go to www.MyDiabetesCharter.ca.