Canada - Health of Canadians at a tipping point

International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance

ISSN: 0952-6862

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




(2011), "Canada - Health of Canadians at a tipping point", International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Vol. 24 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Canada - Health of Canadians at a tipping point

Article Type: News and views From: International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, Volume 24, Issue 6

Keywords: Diabetes management, Healthcare resource management, Change management, Healthcare improvement

The results of an exclusive Canadian Diabetes Association public opinion poll revealed the serious concern by Canadians that the diabetes epidemic in Canada threatens the health of their own families, the healthcare system and the Canadian economy.

According to the poll conducted by Environics Research Group, 41 per cent of respondents believe their own children or children they may have in the future are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, almost 90 per cent of respondents believe that diabetes is having a serious impact on the future of the healthcare system, while 62 per cent indicate that diabetes is hurting the Canadian economy.

Concurrent with the release of these poll results, the Association has released a new report entitled Diabetes: Canada at the Tipping Point – Charting a New Path. The findings of this report confirm the concerns of Canadians that our country is not adequately prepared to manage the growing burden of diabetes.

“Canadians recognize that diabetes is at epidemic proportions and will impact future generations, yet governments are not responding in equal measure”, says Michael Cloutier, President and CEO of the Canadian Diabetes Association. “Our report shows that we are at the tipping point and unless action is taken immediately, diabetes will threaten the health of millions of more Canadians and the future sustainability of the Canadian healthcare system and our economy”.

The report provides a comprehensive overview and assessment of federal, provincial and territorial government policies and programs for people with diabetes. Its findings indicate that while some progress has been made by governments to address diabetes, this progress is dwarfed by the growing burden of the disease. Nationwide, diabetes rates have almost doubled over the past decade and, unless action is taken now, one in three people in Canada will be living with diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020.

While no region of Canada is immune to diabetes, the report shows that for people with diabetes, where they live in Canada still has a strong impact on their ability to manage their disease. Additionally, in comparison to its peer countries, Canada has some of the highest rates of diabetes prevalence, mortality and avoidable diabetes-related hospitalizations.

According to Shawn Shepheard, Chair of the Association’s National Advocacy Council, “People like me, who live with diabetes, fear both the risk of major medical complications and discrimination due to our disease and our ability to afford the costs associated with managing diabetes”. These concerns are echoed within the Environics poll, where 78 per cent of those with type 2 diabetes reported they feel at risk of developing serious health complications due to their disease, and one in three noted that there are situations where they would hesitate to reveal they have diabetes.

When Canadians were asked to name the top factors driving increasing diabetes rates, 84 per cent point to the failure of people to take care of their own health and 81 per cent blame the food industry. In addition, when Canadians were informed that today one in four Canadians have either diabetes or pre-diabetes, 72 per cent say governments should spend more than they are now on programs and services designed to prevent and manage diabetes.

“Novo Nordisk is proud to partner with the Canadian Diabetes Association in its work to increase awareness of the burden of diabetes in Canada and to understand the concerns Canadians have about the severe impact of diabetes on their families, our healthcare system and the economy”, said Vince Lamanna, President of Novo Nordisk Canada. “At Novo Nordisk, we are changing the future of diabetes in Canada by collaborating with the diabetes community to identify and implement better methods of diabetes prevention, education, treatment and support”.

To “tip” the course of diabetes in Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association is calling upon all governments to act now to reduce the burden of diabetes, enhance support for people with diabetes and strategically invest in diabetes programs and services.

“Unlike many other chronic diseases, diabetes can be managed effectively, allowing people with diabetes to live long and healthy lives”, explains Cloutier. “Change will take time, and the time is now to work together if we have any hope of altering our current course to chart a new path for a healthier Canada in the near future”.

Canada has one of the highest rates of diabetes prevalence at 9.2 per cent in comparison to its peer countries. Even more concerning is that Canada’s rate of diabetes-related mortality is the third-highest among its peer countries.

The total population with diabetes is estimated to be 2.7 million people (7.6 per cent) and this figure is projected to rise to 4.2 million people (10.8 per cent) by 2020. While the number of Canadians diagnosed with diabetes is already high, an additional one million are estimated to be living with undiagnosed diabetes. Currently, one in four Canadians lives with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes; and this will rise to one in three by 2020 if current trends continue. Given projections of the total Canadian population by Statistics Canada of approximately 35 million people by 2020, this would mean almost 11.7 million people will be living with diabetes, undiagnosed diabetes or pre-diabetes by 2020 unless action is taken now.

The cost of diabetes today is $11.7 billion annually and should trends continue, by 2020 that cost will rise to $16 billion annually.

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