The number of diabetics continue to grow in Saskatchewan. The Canadian Diabetes Association (CDA) estimates that the number of people living in Saskatchewan with diabetes will increase to 100,000 in 2017. This is up from the 97,000 people diagnosed in 2016. The CDA estimates that by 2020, over 125,000 people in Saskatchewan will be diabetic.
Brie Hnetka, Regional Director for Saskatchewan CDA, explains why they are seeing higher rates, "We have an aging population. We also have high rates particularly in Saskatchewan because we have a high numbers of indigenous population and they are at an increased rate than the general population for being diagnosed with diabetes. They are 3-5% more prevalent to diabetes."
Other factors that contribute to the high rates are obesity in adults and youth, lack of physical activity, lack of a healthy diet, and tobaco use. Around 57% of adults and 20% of youth are either overweight or obese. Family history, ethnic background, socioeconomic status, and environment also play a significant part in a person's health.
Not only is diabetes a health concern, it is also costly. It costs Saskatchewan's health care system around $99.8 million a year in direct costs, including hospitalizations, doctor visits and inpatient medications.
Hnetka also talks about the risk of pre-diabetes, "It's an increase in blood glucose number but not quite high enough to be diabetes. 50% of those people will go on to get diabetes, but 50% might not. Hopefully, we can catch those people before they get diabetes and implement management techniques in order to change their lifestyle so they don't get diabetes."
The CDA recommends three areas to work on to help those living with diabetes.
- Implement a diabetes care pathway that specifies the support for optimal diabetes management. This includes recruiting and retaining diabetes educators and specialists in health care.
- Expand financial coverage for insulin pumps and supplies to those with type 1 diabetes who are medically eligible.
- Develop a policy to ensure that students are supported with diabetes management at school.