Diabetes threatens Aborigine extinction

This quote says it all: “Aborigines, Maori, Pacific Islanders and native American Indians, could become extinct if a diabetes epidemic is not halted.”

Diabetes could wipe out the Aborigine population by the end of the century, according to a Victorian expert on the disease.

Professor Paul Zimmet, director of Monash University’s International Diabetes Institute, told smh.com.au that indigenous people around the world, including Aborigines, Maori, Pacific Islanders and native American Indians, could become extinct if a diabetes epidemic is not halted.

“The idea of the extinction of indigenous populations by the end of the century is possible, and that includes our own indigenous people,” Prof Zimmet said from Melbourne, where he is co-ordinating the two-day Diabetes in Indigenous People Forum which began yesterday.

“In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities between 20-30 per cent of adults have diabetes.

“It is a huge concern to us because we are seeing diabetes of adults, Type-2 diabetes, now in children and adolescents. By the time they are in their mid-20s they are having heart attacks.”

The startling prediction is based on figures showing indigenous people have a much higher rate of developing diabetes than the rest of the population, and all indications suggest the rate will continue to grow if left unchecked.

“We are also seeing young mothers with diabetes and their children develop the disease, so it becomes inter-generational,” Prof Zimmet said.

The National Health Survey said diabetes accounted for 8 per cent of all Indigenous deaths in 2002, compared with 2 per cent of all non-Indigenous deaths.

A government report released earlier this year states: “The prevalence of diabetes is estimated to be almost one million Australians aged 25 years and over, many of whom do not know they have the disease. Studies indicate that the rate of diabetes in some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is as high as 30 per cent, compared to 7 per cent in the non-indigenous population.” The AusDiab 2005 study, which looked at 6000 Australian adults, estimates that the number of new cases of diabetes for Australian adults is approximately 275 every day.”

Globally, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of diabetes in recent years. It was estimated that in 2003, around 194 million people worldwide had diabetes and if current trends prevail, this figure is likely to jump to 333 million by the year 2025.

A comment is awaited from the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council of NSW.

Full article here: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/diabetes-threatens-aborigine-extinction/2006/11/14/1163266531107.html

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