Diabetes prevention in Ireland not keeping pace

Tue, 21 Mar 2006
Diabetes in Ireland, which has already come under scrutiny in the press this week for over-exerted healthcare services, could be under an even greater strain than previously thought. One leading Irish diabetes expert has been reported as saying that decades may take place before Ireland can afford the programmes essential to preventing diabetes. He highlighted the fact that managing the problem was now taking up such a high percentage of resources that prevention would need a whole new outlook on the funding of healthcare.

The diabetes expert, Professor John Nolan, spoke out at a meeting held by the Diabetes Federation of Ireland. He told the meeting, held in Croke Park, that the finance for funding was not keeping pace with the volume of new patients who urgently require treatment. One excerpt from his speech showed the seriousness of the situation: "The cost of preventing complications is less expensive than treating complications…. The ultimate goal is prevention of diabetes. We can’t afford that. We’re not ready for it. We need more money up front."

The decision, Nolan said, still remains in the hands of the politicians. His expert knowledge also highlighted the fact that even if the government were to invest in preventative services for diabetes, it would take ten years to have an impact. The priority, he said, is to fund community preventative schemes, whilst not letting up the focus on late stage diabetes treatment.

Early diabetes detection should be a priority, Nolan said, and pre-diabetes screening also. Retinopathy screening and podiatry services were also brought into question. The speech raises important questions about the importance of prevention in chronic disease.
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