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Manitoba to provide insulin pumps to children

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The Manitoba Government will free hundreds of diabetic children from the tyranny of injection needles.

Theresa Oswald, Minister of Health, officially launched a pediatric insulin pump program on Thursday.

"Children with Type 1 diabetes and their families face unique challenges," she said. "We are here to help."

The program will supply portable programmable pumps, an alternative to daily insulin injections, to medically eligible children living with Type 1 diabetes. The pumps, roughly the size of a pager, are discrete and can be used almost anywhere, even while swimming.

Madison Rietvelt, 13, is the first person to receive a pump through the program. Doctors diagnosed her diabetes 2.5 years ago.

The best thing about the pump will be freedom from the "feeling of getting hurt every day," said Madison. She requires 7 to 10 painful injections per day.

A pump helps children, "live out their dreams and wishes," said Monica Rietvelt, Madison’s mother. "I saw my daughter smile for the first time in a year."

A rigorous injection schedule prevents many children with Type 1 diabetes from participating in important parts of a normal childhood, such as field trips and birthday parties.

"I’m just really excited for all of the kids in Manitoba," said Madison, "For their freedom."

In two days Madison’s pump will be filled with insulin for the first time; it contains saline while she is trained in its use. The pump doesn’t take care of everything. She will continue pricking her finger to measure her blood sugar level manually. Some pumps can be fitted with an add-on, which the program doesn’t cover, that automatically tests blood sugar levels.

Pumps from multiple brands are available through the program; with an average value of $6,500. The Manitoba government estimates 30 per cent of the 530 children living with Type 1 diabetes in Manitoba will qualify for the program, costing an estimated $1.5 million a year.

The province expects the program will generate significant savings for our health-care system. The savings, resulting from a reduction in future health complications and emergency room visits for diabetic children, should offset the program’s costs.

The program will, "improve the sustainability of the provinces health-care system," said Andrea Kwasnicki, the Canadian Diabetes Association’s regional director for Manitoba/Nunavut, "it represents a thoughtful and strategic investment."

Kwasnicki hopes this program is a first--not final--step for the province. Eventually she would like to see the program’s age limit removed.

A person becomes responsible for all costs associated with their pump once they reach 18 years of age under the current program. A pump usually requires replacement after five years.

To find out if your child qualifies for the new progam contact your health-care provider or DER-CA at 204-787-3011.

kelly.graham@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Thursday, April 12, 2012 at 8:25 PM CDT: Adds details and quotes

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