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AUSTRALIA. Diabetes number one health issue for indigenous Australians

Categories: Salud, Australia

Aboriginal leaders say diabetes is the number one health issue affecting indigenous Australians. Half of all Australia's indigenous people either have type 2 diabetes or a condition known as pre-diabetes. An Indigenous Diabetes forum begins in Melbourne this morning, which aims to get corporate Australia engaged in new ways to prevent the disease.

Presenter: Bronwyn Herbert
Speakers: Warren Mundine, chairman Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce; Professor Paul Zimmet, director of the Baker International Diabetes Insitute in Melbourne

BRONWYN HERBERT: The United Nations released a report earlier this year on the state of indigenous communities worldwide.

Australia topped the list for the worst health in the world and diabetes was listed as a major factor.

WARREN MUNDINE: I'd consider this the number one health issue. This is a massive disease that is creeping across Indigenous communities.

BROWNYN HERBERT: Warren Mundine is the chairman of the Australian Indigenous Chamber of Commerce.

WARREN MUNDINE: I know people with diabetes and that but it really hit me when I went into the town camps last April last year in Alice Springs and I just looked around and I seen people with one leg, no legs, struggling around, and I thought I was in, say, Cambodia or something like that where you've got land mines, people have lost their legs. You know, you see the statistics and just sort of go what the hell is going on here?

BRONWYN HERBERT: The statistics might shock.

Professor Paul Zimmet is a director of the Baker International Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

PAUL ZIMMET: Diabetes is rampant in many communities and indeed even in the Australian general community it is over 7 per cent. We're talking up to 30 per cent of adult Indigenous people have got diabetes and probably another 20 per cent have what we call pre-diabetes which means that inevitably they are going to get type-2 diabetes. So it is very much a disaster.

BRONWYN HERBERT: That's half of the Aboriginal people of Australia.

PAUL ZIMMET: That's a fearful figure. Alice Springs has the largest renal kidney dialysis unit in the southern hemisphere because of the very high rates of kidney disease due to diabetes.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The Indigenous diabetes forum starts in Melbourne today. It brings together leading Australian business figures, Indigenous leaders and health experts.

Warren Mundine says it'll take more than dialysis machines to fight this disease.

WARREN MUNDINE: It's got to that stage that we have to turn up to work, we sit there and you go, okay this is how you do your accounts, this is also how you look after yourself in regards to how you eat and drink.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Professor Zimmet says eating health food is important but there's an opportunity to make communities as a whole healthier.

WARREN MUNDINE: Involving urban planners to design environments for healthy towns and town camps and such like that will provide infrastructure for green space, parklands, walking paths, cycle ways, public transport, better community facilities in terms of health.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The forum will reconvene in Sydney next month to take in more ideas.




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