Islanders encouraged to get checked for diabetes
Health PEI is offering free diabetes screening and risk assessment clinics for Islanders in locations across the province this month.
November is Diabetes Awareness month, including World Diabetes Day today, which provides a great opportunity to learn more about diabetes prevention, education and early detection. Islanders are encouraged to attend one of clinics listed at www.healthpei.ca/copdanddiabetesclincis
“Diabetes touches the lives of many islanders and their families. As a government we have a renewed focus on diabetes, and ensuring best practice critical services are available for proper assessment, intervention and management of this disease,” said Health and Wellness Minister Robert Mitchell.
“We are successfully implementing the goals of the current Diabetes Strategy, and look forward to launching a new one in early 2019 – which will map out where we need to focus our efforts over the next four years.”
More than 15,000 Islanders live with diabetes, approximately one in nine over the age of 20. On average, 860 Islanders are diagnosed with diabetes each year.
“Diabetes is a very serious health issue that affects most Island families,” said Martha St. Pierre, registered nurse and Provincial Diabetes Program Clinical Lead. “Initiatives like this month’s diabetes screening and risk assessment clinics help to identify Islanders who may be at risk or those who are living with diabetes and may not realize it.”
“As a program, we continue to adapt and grow; working collaboratively with health care providers and staff, to meet the changing needs of Islanders living with diabetes and help them manage their disease so they can lead an active and healthy life“
Since the PEI Diabetes Strategy 2014-2017 was released in April 2014, more than 8,200 Islanders have accessed services offered by Health PEI’s Provincial Diabetes Program.
Health PEI is in the final stages of developing a new four-year provincial diabetes strategy. The 2019-2022 PEI Diabetes Strategy will be released in early 2019.
“Diabetes prevention and education are so important and will continue to be a priority as we move forward with adopting a new diabetes strategy for our province,” added St. Pierre. In many cases, diabetes can be prevented, delayed, or even reversed by making healthy lifestyle choices including a healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing excess weight.
More than 340 Islanders, including those living with diabetes and their caregivers, helped to inform the priorities of the new strategy through a series of focus groups held over the summer and an on-line survey. A Diabetes Summit involving health care providers and advocacy groups such as Diabetes Canada was held in September, providing participants with the opportunity to discuss and offer input on the new strategy. Health PEI also carried out an evaluation of the previous strategy.
For more information about the Provincial Diabetes Program, visit www.healthpei.ca/diabetes.
Senior Communications Officer
Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes diagnosed with a higher prevalence in adults over 40 years of age.
The most common symptoms of diabetes include:
• unusual thirst
• frequent urination
• weight change (gain or loss)
• extreme fatigue or lack of energy
• blurred vision
• frequent or reoccurring infections
• cuts and/or bruises that are slow to heal
• tingling or numbness in hands or feet
• trouble getting or maintaining an erection
About the Provincial Diabetes Program
The Provincial Diabetes Program provides leadership and expertise in diabetes through education and support to clients to assist them in maintaining or enhancing their quality of life:
• information about living with diabetes to people with diabetes and their families;
• ‘Getting Started’ classes for those new to diabetes;
• ‘At Risk’ classes for those identified as being at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes;
• one-on-one instruction on carbohydrate counting;
• individual assessment and counseling for persons with diabetes of all ages;
• ongoing follow-up for clients to assist with diabetes management in an effort to live a healthy life with diabetes and prevent long term complications;
• initiation and adjustment of insulin with clients and families;
• education and quarterly follow-up to children and adolescents with diabetes in coordination with the pediatricians;
• insulin pump initiation and follow up for Islanders of all ages, including children and youth;
• electronic information for clients with diabetes and health professionals working in the field; and,
• education for health professionals and the public through professional education days.
In July 2015, Health PEI partnered with Island optometrists to deliver province-wide access to diabetic retinopathy testing. Since then, approximately 7,500 Islanders have accessed this program which provides early assessment and appropriate referral for treatment of diabetic retinopathy – one of the leading causes of blindness.