Posted: Tue 14th Nov 2023

Public Health Wales: Urgent action needed as Diabetes cases set to rise

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Nov 14th, 2023

Public Health Wales has issued a stark warning on World Diabetes Day: if current trends persist, approximately one in 11 adults in Wales could be living with diabetes by 2035.

This alarming projection equates to an additional 48,000 people battling the disease, a 22% increase from the 2021/22 figures.

The anticipated rise in diabetes cases could place considerable strain on the Welsh National Health Service (NHS).

In 2021/22, the average cost of diabetes-related hospital stays was £4,518 per spell, excluding more severe cases that required amputations.

The financial burden was further highlighted by the £105 million spent on diabetes management drugs in 2022/23.

More than 200,000 people in Wales are already living with diabetes, around eight per cent of adults.

Around 90 per cent of these cases have type 2 diabetes, over half of which could be prevented or delayed with behaviour changes.

The All Wales Diabetes Prevention Programme, spearheaded by Public Health Wales and funded by the Welsh Government, plays a pivotal role in this fight against diabetes.

This initiative, delivered locally through trained healthcare support workers and dietetic leads, focuses on helping high-risk individuals adopt healthier diets and increase physical activity.

Individuals at risk are identified via an HbA1c blood test, which assesses average blood sugar levels over two to three months.

Those eligible in areas where the program is available receive guidance from healthcare support workers and can be directed to additional support resources.

Since its inception in June 2022, the programme has extended support to over 3,000 people across 32 of the 60 primary care clusters in Wales.

Dr. Amrita Jesurasa, a Consultant in Public Health for Public Health Wales, stressed the gravity of the situation. She noted a 40% increase in diabetes cases in the past decade, equating to an additional 60,000 people. Dr. Jesurasa also emphasized the severe health implications of type 2 diabetes, including sight loss, kidney failure, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations.

However, there is hope. Dr. Jesurasa pointed out that significant strides could be made in preventing type 2 diabetes through behavioral changes. Factors like maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, and regular physical activity are key.

The programme’s independent evaluation revealed that nearly half of the participants were unaware of their risk before engagement. This underscores the importance of awareness and early intervention.

In addition to its ongoing efforts, Public Health Wales is marking World Diabetes Day by releasing a series of reports and data on diabetes in Wales, available on their website. These include trends, risk factors, and projections for the next decade, along with an activity report and evaluation of the All Wales Diabetes Prevention Programme.

A case study from the Swansea Bay University Health Board illustrates the programme’s impact. Darren Rix, a 50-year-old from Pontardawe, discovered his prediabetic condition following a routine eye test. After participating in the programme, he saw significant health improvements, emphasizing the importance of early detection and lifestyle changes.

Rachel Long, lead dietitian at Swansea Bay University Health Board, highlights the importance of raising awareness about the risk of type 2 diabetes. The early intervention and preventive approach of the programme shows promising results, paving the way for a healthier future for Wales.

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