Calls for more funding for diabetes patients as impact of Covid-19 is revealed

There are calls for more funding to help Kiwis with diabetes as a survey reveals the stress the condition can cause.

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A new survey has revealed most are feeling "burnt out", sparking renewed calls for more funding to help kiwi patients. Source: 1 NEWS

The research, done as part of diabetes action month, also showed the impact of Covid-19 on diabetes patients.

For Ruby McGill it's an intricate ritual of calculation, measuring, and monitoring as she knows what it's like to burn out.

“I felt like a massive failure - regular night time blood sugar lows, or hypos,  having to wake up and treat those...not being able to function during the day," McGill said.

A new Diabetes New Zealand survey of 1000 patients has found she's not alone.

Of those surveyed, 81 per cent reported feelings of failure, frustration or guilt in relation to managing their condition and 69 per cent had experienced diabetes burnout, where they became so overwhelmed they gave up, or came close to giving up on managing their diabetes.

“What was really interesting was that 45 per cent experienced increased diabetes stress during Covid-19,” said Heather Verry of Diabetes NZ.

“Covid-19 seems to have disproportionately affected people with diabetes when we look to other countries, there was a lot of fear associated with Covid-19 in New Zealand,” diabetes academic Helen Snell said.

McGill’s stress has been massively reduced thanks to a continuous glucose monitor, which communicates with her insulin pump and alerts her when her blood sugar is low. They're not funded by Pharmac along with a range of diabetes drugs.

“Our biggest fear is that we don't wake in the morning after what's happened to our blood sugars,” McGill said.

A petition to reform and double the budget of Pharmac is being presented to parliament early next year.

It currently has more than 70,000 signatures. the man behind it says he's received hundreds of submissions from type 1 and 2 diabetes patients who want their treatment funded.

“Here, we don't even fund one drug in two classes of diabetes drugs, so we are quite honestly years behind,” said Malcolm Mulholland of Patient Voice Aotearoa.