Diabetes in Australia

Diabetes is the epidemic of the 21st century and the biggest challenge confronting Australia’s health system.

Facts about diabetes

  • 280 Australians develop diabetes every day. That’s one person every five minutes
  • Around 1.7 million Australians have diabetes. This includes all types of diagnosed diabetes (1.2 million known and registered) as well as silent, undiagnosed type 2 diabetes (up to 500,000 estimated)
  • More than 100,000 Australians have developed diabetes in the past year
  • For every person diagnosed with diabetes there is usually a family member or carer who also ‘lives with diabetes’ every day in a support role. This means that an estimated 2.4 million Australians are affected by diabetes every day
  • Total annual cost impact of diabetes in Australia estimated at $14.6 billion

Diabetes complications

Blindness

Diabetes is the leading cause of preventable blindness in Australia. (Source)

There are currently around 72,000 people in Australia with diabetic retinopathy, with approximately 3 in 5 experiencing poor sight. (Source)

Diabetic retinopathy occurs in over 15 per cent of Australians with diabetes. (Source)

The total indirect cost of vision loss associated with diabetic macular oedema in Australia is estimated to be $2.07 billion per annum. This is more than $28,000 per person with diabetic macular oedema. (Source)

Amputations

There are more than 4,400 amputations every year in Australia as a result of diabetes. (Source: Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, (2016). Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation. [online] Australian Government. Available at: http://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/atlas/ [Accessed 29 Jun. 2016].)

In 2005, more than 1000 people with diabetes died as a direct result of foot ulcers and lower limb wounds – around 8% of all diabetes related deaths. (Source: Diabetes. (2008). Canberra: Australian Government, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.)

Every year there are 10,000 hospital admissions in Australia for diabetes-related foot ulcers in Australia – many of these end with people having a limb, or part of a limb, amputated. (Source: Davis, W., Norman, P., Bruce, D. and Davis, T. (2006). Predictors, consequences and costs of diabetes-related lower extremity amputation complicating type 2 diabetes: The Fremantle Diabetes Study. Diabetologia, 49(11), pp.2634-2641.)

Experts estimate diabetic foot disease costs Australia around $875 million every single year. (Source: Based on research from the Australian Diabetic Foot Network.)

Recent new research suggests investing in evidence-based care for Australians with diabetic foot ulcers could save around $2.7 billion over five years. That is around $9,000 per person aged under 75 and $12,000 per person aged over 75 (both over five years). (Source: Cheng, Q., Lazzarini, P., Gibb, M., Derhy, P., Kinnear, E., Burn, E., Graves, N. and Norman, R. (2016). A cost-effectiveness analysis of optimal care for diabetic foot ulcers in Australia. International Wound Journal.)

Diabetes is increasing

Diabetes is the fastest growing chronic condition in Australia; increasing at a faster rate than other chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. All types of diabetes are increasing in prevalence:

  • Type 1 diabetes accounts for 10% of all diabetes and is increasing
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for 85% of all diabetes and is increasing
  • Gestational diabetes in pregnancy is increasing
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