Diabetes remains one of the most significant health challenges in western Sydney.
Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) endocrinologist and presenter, Dr Rona Francisco, said it is estimated that 12 per cent of western Sydney residents have diabetes and 38 per cent of the local population are at ‘high risk’ of type 2 diabetes with pre-diabetes or early undiagnosed diabetes.
Diabetes screening at the Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospital Emergency Departments (ED) in 2017 showed alarming rates of 17 per cent of people with diabetes and 29 per cent with pre-diabetes.
To help raise community awareness, a free community forum is being held on Thursday 2 June at Blacktown Workers Club. Topics of discussion will include:
- Early detection with a HbA1c test;
- Lifestyle – diet, exercise, and nature;
- GP Management Plan;
- Specialist service with an Endocrinologist; and
- Diabetes distress and mental health.
The event is a collaboration between WSD (an initiative of Western Sydney Local Health District and WentWest (Western Sydney Primary Health Network), Blacktown City Council, Blacktown Workers Club, and the Lions and Leos clubs of Lions District 201N5 (Sydney and Norfolk Island), Kings Langley, Sydney Sri Lankan, Blacktown City and Cherrybrook.
Lions District 201N5’s Diabetes Chair, Mohan Nanayakkara, said a key goal is to reduce the prevalence of diabetes and improve the lives of those with diabetes.
“Better knowledge (of diabetes) will benefit families with greater freedom, better relationships, and emotional wellbeing,” said Mohan.
“Learning how to prevent or control diabetes will also save money and time and help hospitals with fewer emergencies and visits.”
WSD Diabetes Prevention Officer Aruni Ratnayake said the prevalence of diabetes in western Sydney calls for urgent action.
“Blacktown and surrounds is a diabetes hotspot with rates of diabetes more than double that of Sydney’s eastern and northern suburbs,” said Aruni.
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale also shared this sentiment, saying that greater awareness of diabetes was essential, especially in western Sydney.
“Blacktown City Council is committed to diabetes awareness and the promotion of healthy lifestyles to help tackle the scourge of diabetes in our city,” he said.
WSD is encouraging anyone who is at high risk to go to their GP and get tested for a free HbA1c test.
This includes adults in western Sydney who has more than one of the following risk factors:
- A family history of diabetes;
- An inactive lifestyle;
- Is overweight or obese;
- Had diabetes during a pregnancy;
- Is 45 years old or older; and
- Have a Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent, Chinese, South East Asian, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island background.