Nearly 30 per cent or 1.4 million British Columbians are living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, according to a new report by Diabetes Canada.
Over the past 10 years, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in B.C. has increased almost 75 per cent. If we were continue on this path over the next decade, diabetes would grow by 44 per cent in B.C., which would make it the second largest increase among Canadian provinces.
Shelia Kern with Diabetes Canada calls the numbers startling and says there are many risk factors involved for driving up the number of diabetes cases in B.C.
“There’s a large part of our population that comes from different ethno-cultural groups, including the South Asian community, the Chinese community, that are at a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes then the general population,” Kern said. “And we also have a large Indigenous population as well.”
Other factors contributing to the high numbers include the fact that many diabetes medications are not covered under the province’s PharmaCare; the insulin pump program does not offer coverage to people who are older than 25 years old and there is limited access to care, medications and the necessary equipment.
WATCH: 29% of British Columbians have diabetes or prediabetes
For Natalie Woods, who has been living with Type 1 diabetes since she was six years old, she said she’d like to see the barriers to using a pump removed. For those who do not qualify for pump coverage, they may need to spend about $2,200 to $4,700 a year depending on their income.
“I’d like to see pump coverage for everyone, regardless of your age or income. I know I’ve struggled to get the pump myself,” Woods said.
“Being aged out of the program when I started pumping, I’d like to see that coverage extended.”
Diabetes costs the B.C. health-care system an estimated $418 million a year as a result of hospitalizations, doctor visits and inpatient medications.
But despite the high numbers, the report says there are things the province can do to reduce the burden of the disease.
Diabetes Canada has identified three key policy issues, which include:
- Expanding the provincial insulin pump program to include all British Columbians with Type 1 diabetes, who are medially eligible, regardless of age.
- More timely and comprehensive PharmaCare coverage of effective diabetes-related medications.
- Increase public funding for foot care treatments, foot care specialist visits and improve screening for diabetic foot ulcers and education.
Anyone concerned about developing Type 2 diabetes, Diabetes Canada has a two-minute online test to determine your level of risk.