Sadly, diabetes is among the leading causes of death among our Aboriginal population.
Statistics have also shown that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians with diabetes are 38 times more likely to undergo a major leg amputation compared to non- Indigenous Australians, with 98 per cent of these amputations related to diabetes.
But the high rates of diabetes among the Aboriginal population highlights a dire need for more accessible, culturally-appropriate diabetes care and support in regional and remote areas of WA.
Diabetes WA is focused on delivering health solutions in these areas.
In 2019, Diabetes WA – in partnership with Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services – secured funding for world-class wound imaging technology to be used by podiatrists and Aboriginal Health Workers in the Kimberley.
Funding provided seven handheld devices to healthcare workers in the Kimberley to accurately photograph, measure and record diabetes-related foot ulcers, which will allow them to share the patient’s results to a central database that can be accessed by specialists back in Perth.
Then in November, 2020, we launched a fundraising campaign as part of World Diabetes Day to fund 10 Aboriginal Health Workers to be trained to deliver our culturally-adapted Aboriginal DESMOND in remote WA communities.
Through training and mentoring Aboriginal Health Workers, Diabetes WA will help to educate Aboriginal people living with diabetes about how they can manage the condition and avoid serious complications that can lead to amputation of limbs, while also ensuring they stay in their communities and are not separated from their families to seek further medical treatment elsewhere.
Diabetes WA Senior Manager of Strategy and Business Development Sophie McGough says diabetes can strike Aboriginal people earlier in life and more aggressively.
“The causes of diabetes in Aboriginal people are very complex and the current stigma of type 2 diabetes being a ‘lifestyle disease’ and ‘individuals being at fault’ is not helpful,” Sophie says.
“Diabetes WA is committed to working under the leadership of the Aboriginal Community Controlled sector to enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to self-determine and drive strategies and solutions.”