National Rural Health Allowance points to serious problems for diabetes in the bush

The National Rural Health Alliance today highlighted the startling figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report Diabetes Indicators for the Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016-2020.

The report shows that people in regional and remote communities have much higher rates of diabetes and related complications compared to those living in major cities, including higher numbers of hospitalisations, co-morbidities and deaths.

The AIHW report also shows that the rates of diabetes for Indigenous Australians remain significantly higher than non-Indigenous Australians. Alliance CEO, Mark Diamond, said the figures show much higher rates of hospitalisation and deaths in rural and remote areas due to diabetes.

“Deaths from diabetes are four times higher for Indigenous Australians. This is simply unacceptable.” Mr Diamond said.

Mr Diamond also highlighted that there are

  • Higher rates of hospitalisations, particularly for pregnant women with diabetes (228 per 100,000) in remote areas compared to 27 per 100,000 in major cities, with the figure for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women a scary 739 per 100,000;
  • Death rates from diabetes increase the further away from major cities (51/100,000), they almost double to 92/100,000 in remote and very remote areas;
  • Deaths of people with diabetes from coronary heart disease and strokes also differ greatly between major cities (309/100,000) compared to regional, rural and remote areas (521/100,000).

“Diabetes remains a major issue for the 7 million Australians living in regional, rural and remote areas,” Mr Diamond said.

“So much more needs to be done on preventing and managing diabetes in the bush – indeed for all health issues and services.

“These disturbing figures are in line with so many other health conditions, where large variations occur in the health outcomes experienced by people in country areas compared with their metropolitan counterparts.

“One of the major issues here is a lack of timely, appropriate and affordable access to health care for people in country areas. So much of this lack of access is driven by the scarcity of health professionals in rural and remote Australia – an issue which requires both fast acting and sustainable strategies to address.

“Diabetes, sadly, is an issue for the whole Australian population but the issue is so much worse in the bush – there must be a concerted effort to ensure rural and remote communities can get access to these services in a timely manner.”