Addressing diabetes firmly on the radar for WDHB and WRPHO

22 January 2012
The Whanganui District Health Board (WDHB) and Whanganui Regional Primary Health Organisation (WRPHO) plan to tackle head on, the rising levels of obesity and diabetes among Whanganui district residents, says WRPHO clinical director and local general practitioner Alan Mangan.
Dr Mangan says diabetes is a huge burden for the health sector and worryingly, many people are reluctant to acknowledge that obesity and diabetes often go hand-in-hand.
The WDHB is working hard to meet the Ministry of Health’s target to ensure that 75 percent of those at risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes have been assessed by July 2013. DHBs are expected to have assessed 90 percent of the eligible population by July 2014.
“The fact that obesity can lead to Type 2 diabetes cannot be taken lightly,” says Dr Mangan. “To be diabetic puts you at much greater risk of significant health problems such as poor vision, heart attacks and kidney disease. Sadly we are experiencing a diabetes epidemic in New Zealand.
“Not only is this distressing for the people who develop it but the financial cost to our health system and the cost in terms of time and effort for those who have diabetes is significant.”
Dr Mangan says he looks forward to seeing the WRPHO’s nurse-based Enhanced Care programme for people with diabetes becoming fully functional across all Whanganui general practices by mid-2013.
“Highly trained nurses will be working alongside diabetes patients encouraging them to self manage and take responsibility for their condition,” Dr Mangan says.
“That includes encouraging them to eat well and exercise. We know exercise makes us feel better and helps maintain our cardiovascular and mental health but it is not the key to reducing obesity and controlling diabetes. It‘s the type and quantity of food we eat that does that.
“A key message the WDHB and WRPHO will be promoting is:  “We must reduce our food intake and be prepared to discuss our weight with our general practice team.”
Dr Mangan believes if people want to improve their health and prevent diabetes developing, the subject of weight cannot be avoided.
In the meantime, he says anyone who knows they’re overweight should consult their general practice team. It’s the first step people need to take to help avoid diabetes and the many other health issues that being overweight can lead to.