February 22, 2019

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Diabetes highest in poorest areas

Rates rising throughout Winnipeg, costing health system: report

A woman fills a syringe as she prepares to give herself an injection of insulin.

THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

A woman fills a syringe as she prepares to give herself an injection of insulin.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/11/2014 (1561 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Almost one in 10 Winnipeggers lives with diabetes, a disease linked to poverty and rising nearly twice as quickly in the North End compared to more affluent neighbourhoods like River Heights.

The United Way and the International Institute for Sustainable Development are drawing attention to the state of diabetes in Winnipeg on World Diabetes Day today.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, the two agencies said 9.2 per cent of the population was diabetic between 2009 to 2012, compared to 6.2 per cent from 1998 to 2001. That's a 48 per cent jump.

The rate of diabetes is rising throughout Winnipeg, but the numbers show it's increasing more quickly in its poorest neighbourhoods.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 13/11/2014 (1561 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Almost one in 10 Winnipeggers lives with diabetes, a disease linked to poverty and rising nearly twice as quickly in the North End compared to more affluent neighbourhoods like River Heights.

The United Way and the International Institute for Sustainable Development are drawing attention to the state of diabetes in Winnipeg on World Diabetes Day today.

In a joint statement issued Thursday, the two agencies said 9.2 per cent of the population was diabetic between 2009 to 2012, compared to 6.2 per cent from 1998 to 2001. That's a 48 per cent jump.

The rate of diabetes is rising throughout Winnipeg, but the numbers show it's increasing more quickly in its poorest neighbourhoods.

The diabetes rate rose 2.3 per cent in Winnipeg's highest income area in that most recent period, 4.3 per cent in its lowest and an average of three per cent city-wide in that same period.

"Diabetes rates are consistently highest in Point Douglas, Inkster and downtown and lowest in Assiniboine South, River Heights and Fort Garry," the two agencies said.

"First and foremost, diabetes is becoming an epidemic. The stats are horrendous; we have 125,000 people across the province with diabetes. That's almost one in 10 Manitobans," said Andrea Kwasnicki, regional director for the Canadian Diabetes Association in Manitoba and Nunavut, which contributed data to the report along with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association. "Those are high, high numbers and the impact on our health care system is alarming."

The burden on the provincial health budget is significant, the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy said. Apart from hospital costs, someone with diabetes can shell out thousands for medications, test strips and other supplies. Depending on the severity of the condition, out-of-pocket costs range from $1,000 to $15,000 a year.

An estimated 3.3 million Canadians are diagnosed with diabetes, costing the health-care system $13.5 billion this year alone, according to the Canadian Diabetes Association. The Public Health Agency of Canada identified Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and Ontario as the provinces with the highest prevalence of diagnosed diabetes as of 2009.

Rising diabetes rates and resulting higher health costs are partly due to better treatment options and longer survival rates. But there is a downside to living longer with diabetes: Higher risks of complications from heart disease, kidney failure, blindness and amputations.

"My organization circulates a lot of information about this time of the year and the key message is to act on diabetes now to reduce or prevent risk factors associated with diabetes," said Anita Ducharme, executive director with the National Aboriginal Diabetes Association.

Diabetes rates among aboriginal people are three to five times that of the non-aboriginal population.

Louise Yurchak, 72, manages her Type 2 diabetes with prescription medication and regular meals. "Diabetes was in the family, on my father's side. He was English," said the River Heights resident. "You'd expect it to be on the aboriginal side of the family but it wasn't."

Albert Ratt, 58, said his Type 2 diabetes has changed his life dramatically. His mother, also diagnosed with diabetes, controls her disease with traditional aboriginal medicine, but he uses prescription medication, he said.

That means no more full-course meals. His daily food intake is spread over several small portions a day and when his glucose levels fall suddenly, it hits him hard.

"When that happens, I have to get something inside me quickly (or) I just start feeling like my body's falling apart," the North End resident said.

A Liberal party candidate for the Interlake in the 2011 provincial election, Ratt said he still makes a point of visiting First Nations communities, but not to campaign for office. He now lobbies for diabetes awareness.

"I see evidence of diabetes affecting people in those communities wherever I go," Ratt said. "We have to get a hold on this, and the sooner the better."

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul
Reporter

Alexandra is a veteran news reporter who has covered stories for the Winnipeg Free Press since 1987. She held the medical beat for nearly 17 years, and today specializes in coverage of Indigenous-related issues. She is among the most versatile journalists on the paper’s staff.

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