3 November 2023

Call for health improvements ahead of World Diabetes Day

| Sarah Martin
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Queensland Health Quality Lifestyle team members Olsen Sailor, Maleta Abdenego, Kayla Schroeter, Georgina Tabua and Sam Mills are urging people to stay healthy ahead of World Diabetes Day. Photo: Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service.

With more than 2600 Cape York and Torres Strait residents living with diabetes, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service is urging people to take care of their health ahead of World Diabetes Day on 14 November.

Primary Health Care Programs North director Maleta Abednego said Thursday Island had the largest concentration of people with diabetes in the Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service region.

“Thursday Island is home to 381 people with diabetes – 336 of whom are Indigenous people – which is about 14.6 per cent of the total number of diabetics on our register in our health service,’’ Ms Abdednego said.

“Across the health service as a whole, we currently have about 2608 active diabetes clients on our register.

“Of these, 1113 clients are on Cape York and 1495 clients in the Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula Area region.

“Of the 1113 Cape York clients, 933 are Indigenous people and the remainder non-Indigenous.”

Ms Abdednego said proper health choices and physical activity were a great way to avoid getting diabetes and could also help manage diabetes for those who already had it.

“If people with diabetes eat healthy kai kai, have a healthy body weight, and are physically active they can be strong and healthy,” she said.

She warned people with diabetes who ate unhealthy food and didn’t exercise were risking serious complications and ongoing poor health.

“They will suffer complications like stroke; blindness, heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, foot problems and risk having amputations.’’

Diabetes currently is the world’s fastest-growing chronic disease and is already the seventh leading cause of death in Australia.

“Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are particularly at risk of developing diabetes and this genetic predisposition is compounded by a range of other factors such as generational disadvantage, poor nutrition, obesity and lack of exercise,” Ms Abednego said.

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