Thousands of children and families with type 1 diabetes to benefit from access to new technology

Diabetes Australia has hailed today’s announcement of the Federal Government’s $54 million Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) subsidy initiative as a life-changer for thousands of Australian children, young people and families living with type 1 diabetes.

Speaking at the launch in Melbourne today, Diabetes Australia CEO A/Professor Greg Johnson said the new CGM subsidy initiative was the most significant investment in type 1 diabetes technology in over a decade.

“It is hard to overstate the significance of the Federal Government’s CGM initiative which will literally change lives and save lives. This will benefit around 4,000 Australian families with a child or young person with type 1 diabetes who are struggling to manage the condition,” A/Professor Johnson said.

“Often parents simply don’t sleep at night because of their fear that their child will go low with a “hypo” and not wake up. The peace of mind it will give children, young people, and their parents, is life changing.

“Diabetes Australia is very proud to be coordinating access to CGM for these children and families through the National Diabetes Services Scheme. We’ve worked hard to make access as easy as possible for those who most need the technology and we’ve set up a special team to help out families with advice and assistance about getting CGM and how best to use the technology”.

Continuous glucose monitors are small wearable devices that can sound alarms and send warnings if glucose levels are getting too low or too high. The devices reduce the number of daily finger prick checks. They can often be used in conjunction with an insulin pump, which routinely delivers insulin.

A/Professor Johnson said there was extensive research demonstrating how CGM could benefit people at high risk and high need.

“CGM can help prevent or reduce the very serious impact of hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) which has the potential to lead to unconsciousness and coma as well as reducing the fear and anxiety associated with hypoglycaemia which is a constant, stressful fact of life for people with type 1 diabetes and their families,” he said.

“There is also clear evidence showing that CGM leads to better long term health outcomes by reducing the risk of diabetes-related complications.

“Diabetes Australia, has led the way advocating for subsidised access to CGM technology for the past eight years.

“We have worked closely with JDRF Australia, the Australian Diabetes Society, the Australian Paediatric Endocrine Group, the Australian Diabetes Educators Association and the Danii Foundation to advocate on behalf of the diabetes community and we were very pleased when the Federal Government made this a key election commitment last year.”

For Melbourne mother Shannon Macpherson, who has three children living with type 1 diabetes, Bella, aged 10, and twins Ayden and Connor, aged 13, CGM could be a life changer for the whole family.

She says she hasn’t had a full night sleep in 10 years.

“My husband and I both get up during the night to check the children. My husband gets up at 12am and I get up at 3:30am, and we’ve been doing that every night for almost ten years.

“We have used CGM before, but at about $300 a week for a family, it has been unaffordable. It has been hard knowing that there is technology out there that could protect them, but it is just too expensive.

“While we know that children dying is rare, it is hard to get away from that fear, so I really think this initiative will be a life changer for us and many other families.”

The CGM subsidy initiative provides access to fully subsidised CGM products through the National Diabetes Services Scheme. Subsidised access to these products is open to children and young people aged under 21 years, living with type 1 diabetes, who face significant challenges in managing their diabetes.

A/Professor Johnson said Diabetes Australia would continue to advocate for the expansion of the scheme to include people with type 1 diabetes aged over the age of 21 who may be at high risk, and women with type 1 diabetes in pregnancy.

“There are many people aged 21 and over living with type 1 diabetes, including pregnant women and people who have impaired hypoglycaemia awareness and/or experience severe hypoglycaemia, who would benefit considerably from this technology,” he said.

“We will continue to advocate for expansion of CGM access to all ages further funding to ensure that the people who need the technology the most, regardless of age, can continue to access it.”