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14 June 2022 Posted by 


Major health challenge for Blacktown
WESTERN Sydney Health authorities are concerned. Diabetes is posing a serious health challenge to Western Sydneysiders.
The Diabetes Australia Map from the National Diabetes Service Scheme (NDSS) has some alarming figures for Western Sydney. The Blacktown LGA has a 7% NDSS prevalence compared to the national NDSS prevalence of 5.9%. 
“The prevalence of diabetes in adults in Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) is 12%, which is quite a high number compared to the national average. Our data indicates that 30% of adult patients have pre-diabetes, which means they are at a risk of going on to develop Type 2 diabetes,” says Associate Professor Tien Ming Hng, Head, Diabetes & Endocrinology, Blacktown Hospita).  
According to Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD), screening for the disease at the Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospital Emergency Departments in 2017 showed alarming rates of 17% of people with diabetes and 29% with a pre- diabetes health condition.
“This calls for urgent action in Blacktown/The Hills as the region is now a diabetes hotspot with high rates of diabetes, more than double that of Sydney’s eastern and northern suburbs,” says Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) Diabetes Preventions Officer Aruni Ratnayake. 
Additionally, 35 per cent of the local population (301,000 people) are at ‘high risk’ of type 2 diabetes with pre-diabetes or high blood glucose, mentions WSD endocrinologist Dr Rona Francisco. 
The Vulnerable Group
Experts have identified a number of factors which makes the population vulnerable to Diabetes. These include a family history of diabetes, an inactive lifestyle, poor lifestyle choices, an obese or overweight condition and being diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy, among others. A Pacific Island, Indian subcontinent, Chinese, South East Asian and Aboriginal or Torres Straight Strait Island background too makes people predisposed to this medical condition.   
“People who experience socio-economic disadvantage, are at a higher risk of both diabetes and its consequences. One such group are people who identify as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islander. While members of the Aboriginal community are on average younger than people who do not identify as Aboriginal, they are 50% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, as well as significantly increased risk of the complications that diabetes causes”, says Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz, Research, Monitoring and Surveillance Co-ordinator at WSD.  
The Way Ahead
To tackle this challenge head-on, the Lions and Leos clubs of Lions District 201N5 (Sydney and Norfolk Island), Kings Langley, Sydney Sri Lankan, Blacktown City and Cherrybrook Leo clubs in collaboration with WSD recently came together to conduct a community forum to address the issue. 
Participants learnt more about an early detection of the disease with a HbA1c test, lifestyle changes with regard to diet and exercise, a GP management plan, specialist services available with an Endocrinologist and learning to cope with Diabetes distress and mental health.
Lions District 201N5’s Diabetes Chair, Mr Mohan Nanayakkara, says being equipped with better knowledge would enable the emotional wellbeing of families. He said hospitals would gain too by fewer medical emergencies. 
Blacktown City Mayor Tony Bleasdale says greater awareness of diabetes is critical. “Blacktown City Council is committed to diabetes awareness and the promotion of healthy lifestyles to help tackle the scourge of diabetes in our city,” he says. 
WSD strongly encourages people at high risk to get tested at their GP with a free HbA1c test. A similar event is being held in Castle Hill on June 18, conducted by The Lions clubs of District 201N5 Zone 11 along with WSD. 
Diabetes in Western Sydney – in numbers
12% of adults in WSLHD (Western Sydney Local Health District) have diabetes.
30% of adults attending Emergency departments or General Practice have pre-diabetes.
18% of adults attending Emergency departments or General Practice have diabetes.
21% of adults in Blacktown Hospital have diabetes.
(Table source: WSD Year in Review Flipbook 2021).


Michael Walls
0407 783 413

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