People with diabetes in the Border region are at a huge health care disadvantage compared to those who live in a capital city.
The grim warning was issued by Mr Duncan Harvey, clinical practicum coordinator for podiatry at Charles Sturt University (CSU), who warned that every three hours an Australian has a lower limb amputated as a direct result of diabetes.
“People in this region are having their health care compromised by a lack of specialist diabetes services in Albury-Wodonga,” said Mr Harvey, who made these comments in the lead up to World Diabetes Day on Wednesday 14 November.
The Albury Wodonga Diabetes Support Group estimates there are over 10 000 people living with diabetes in the region. The group believes these people could benefit from improved local diabetes care, as many are unable to travel the long distances to receive the specialist care they need.
According to Commonwealth government statistics, diabetes costs Australia over $3.5 billion per year. It is estimated nearly 3 500 amputations will be performed and over 800 people will die from diabetes-related complications in 2012, at a cost of nearly $500 million.
“A major regional centre such as Albury-Wodonga should be home to a specialist Wellness Clinic,” Mr Harvey said.
“The centre should involve a variety of medical expertise, from specialists such as endocrinologists, vascular surgeons and orthopaedic surgeons, to allied health professionals such as podiatrists, diabetes educators, psychiatrists, and orthotists.
“Such a centre would help high-risk individuals reduce the risk of limb amputations, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and blindness, the five major complications associated with poorly managed diabetes,” he said.