I’m in Canberra today, at Parliament House, for a lunch event focussing on diabetes technology. As usual, I’m surrounded by a group of smart people such as Professor Jane Speight and Professor Alicia Jenkins. Me, in my role as a non-professor, is to provide the consumer perspective about why freedom and choice when it comes to diabetes technology is something that should be supported by government.
Today, Diabetes Australia is launching an important new report about insulin pump therapy in Australia. It provides recommendations and the case for action, and gives a snapshot of the current situation – not only of pump therapy, but other technologies such as continuous glucose monitors. Pleasingly, and with a nod to the future, emerging technologies such as the ‘bionic pancreas’ are also mentioned.
The report highlights the inequality of current pathways to access pump therapy. If you are unable to afford private health insurance, or not under 18 years of age and meet the eligibility criteria of the Government funded Insulin Pump Program, you are left to self-fund the purchase of a pump. At around $9000 that’s a lot of loose change to have lying around under the sofa cushions.
Sensor technology is not funded at all, leaving people with diabetes to find the dollars themselves. For me – and many others – being able to use a sensor-augmented pump gives incredible peace of mind, and reduces diabetes distress. It is not fair that this technology is out of reach for most people.
I’m really honoured to have been asked to tell my story to the group of MPs who will be at the lunch. In my time doing this job, it has become more and more apparent that having people hear and understand how living with diabetes impacts us on a day to day basis helps to bring the message home about life with a chronic health condition.
Living with diabetes cannot be tied up neatly in a box – it is complex, changes all the time and is different for everyone. Being able to manage our condition should be a matter of choice – not finances. Hopefully today the group of politicians hearing us will understand that a little bit more and start working towards developing an approach to pump therapy (and related technologies) for all Australians with diabetes.
I work for Diabetes Australia – Vic and have been involved in the development of the resource being launched today.