“Rolling the Dice on Diabetes”

Virden resident speaks up.

Attendees will kick giant dice to learn about the likelihood and costs of complications and emergencies for insulin-dependent diabetics. MLAs will have the opportunity to speak with adult and senior Manitobans who are currently experiencing or hoping to avoid these complications.

Budget 2021 includes coverage for preventive medical devices for diabetes patients up to the age of 25, but advocates are asking for the age discrimination to be removed.

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Virden resident Victoria Lelond says, “As a mother over the age of 25 living with type one diabetes, continued care is essential. In two years, I have been hospitalized for diabetic ketoacidosis twice, a serious complication of type one diabetes. In my case, a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) would have prevented trips to the hospital. The average hospital stay costs $7,000 which is considerably more than a CGM costs.”

The group points out that diabetic emergencies and complications are not rare. Studies show the prevalence of retinopathy, or damage to the retina, is about 8% in type one diabetic patients 3 years after diagnosis and increases to 80% after 15 years of living with the disease. The lifetime risk of kidney disease is estimated to be 50 to 70%, with about 30% of type one diabetic patients progressing to endstage kidney disease, requiring dialysis or kidney transplant.

Jen Dyck, from Winkler, has lived with diabetes for almost 28 years. Dyck says, “Maintaining tight blood sugar control is key to preventing emergencies and reducing the risk of complications. Since starting to use an insulin pump and CGM 5 years ago, I’ve had no ER visits and no serious low or high blood sugar events to result in seizures. Our government should be thrilled to cover the supplies needed to save lives and reduce the enormous costs of complications and hospital stays.”

Manitoba’s annual budget for dialysis is over $90 million. An additional $2.7 million was announced in Budget 2021. Advocates point out that while dialysis costs at least $60,000 per year per patient, preventive devices such as CGMs are comparatively cheap. Manitoba pharmacare currently spends $275 per month for a patient to use ten fingerprick tests per day. The modern flash and CGM sensors range in price from $217 to $299 per month, depending on the brand, and users experience fewer emergencies and are able to maintain lower average blood sugars with these devices.

During Budget debate on April 8th, PC MLA Janice Morley-Lecompte noted that “the continuous glucose monitor will eliminate many hospital visits…” The diabetes advocates say the government should act quickly to expand coverage so that many hospital visits can be eliminated for those over age 25 also.

Group member Leah Wiebe of La Broquerie says, “My life as a 54-year-old is just as valuable as someone who is 24 years old. There are not age limits on other life-saving devices like pacemakers.”

The event will comply with current public health guidelines. Organizers are asking the public not to attend in person, but to visit their site at facebook.com/MBDiabetesfundingnow to follow the event live.

© Virden Empire-Advance