Stewart Dickson MLA said: “As we face increasing budgetary constraints, the costs of dealing with diabetes and its complications, around £1million per day in Northern Ireland, are putting a huge strain on our Health Service. But the most important effects are on everyday life for individuals and their families as they adjust to managing the condition.
“In terms of management, we must ensure that patients have ready access to treatment and that it is as locally based as possible. Significant costs are incurred by people with diabetes in travelling to medical appointments, missing work etc. and so we must provide appropriate support in this regard.
“In Northern Ireland, 59% of adults are either overweight or obese; and, disturbingly, 8% of children here aged 2-15 years were assessed as being obese.
“We face an enormous challenge – a challenge that cannot be tackled by one Department alone. While the Department of Health should take the lead, any diabetes strategy must be cross-departmental in nature to achieve the best results possible. There would be roles for the Department of Culture to get people active; Education to ensure children grow up with an awareness of diabetes and Regional Development to show the health benefits of walking and cycling.
“Diabetes is a cross-cutting issue and so as we look forward, let us consider it that way, thinking cross-departmentally for the benefit of all those affected.”