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This month, pregnant women can get more coverage for their diabetes test strips

Diabetes Canada P.E.I. draw on supporters to build a human circle on campus at UPEI Tuesday earlier this month to recognize World Diabetes Day. More than 16,000 Islanders are living with diabetes. (JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN)
Diabetes Canada P.E.I. draw on supporters to build a human circle on campus at UPEI Tuesday earlier this month to recognize World Diabetes Day. More than 16,000 Islanders are living with diabetes. (JIM DAY/THE GUARDIAN)

Islanders who have diabetes have been getting some extra help this month.

Throughout November, Island women who need more intensive diabetes management during their pregnancy can now get more coverage for their diabetes test strips.

In addition, a full-time nurse practitioner will staff the Provincial Diabetes Program.

Health P.E.I. is offering free diabetes screening and risk assessment clinics in locations across the province. Visit www.healthpei.ca/copdanddiabetesclinics for a complete listing.

More than 14,000 Islanders live with diabetes. That’s nearly one in 10 people. An average of 860 new cases are diagnosed each year with complex and gestational diabetes care needs seeing the highest increases.

Pregnant women living with diabetes need intensive management, including frequent blood-glucose monitoring – up to eight times a day – to ensure a healthy outcome for both mother and baby during and after the pregnancy.

The rate of gestational diabetes (new onset diabetes during pregnancy) in P.E.I. has increased 90 per cent over the past three years, with about 75 Island women developing gestational diabetes during their pregnancy each year.

The diabetes program’s new nurse practitioner was previously funded on a temporary basis. Nurse practitioners can provide timely access to primary diabetes care, including medication management and treatment adjustment.

Dr. Lenley Adams, a diabetes physician specialist, said with increasing prevalence, the health needs of Islanders living with diabetes have resulted in greater demand on the provincial program.

In addition, the program provides support to women living with pre-existing type 1 or type 2 diabetes who become pregnant.

The added diabetes test-strip support will increase coverage for pregnant women who are prescribed insulin to 250 test strips per month. That’s up from 100 test strips per month. While test strip coverage for Islanders who are prescribed insulin is provided through the P.E.I. Pharmacare Program, previously the number of strips provided was insufficient to cover the frequency of testing required, resulting in additional cost for many women (minimum $120 per month) that is often not financially possible.

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