Diabetes WA is launching an all-out assault on type 2 diabetes in the Pilbara region.

Red dirt road in the Pilbara

In coming months, Diabetes WA will be ramping up its DESMOND and Walking Away from Diabetes programs in a bid to tackle the growing number of people living with type 2 diabetes in the State’s north-west.

Diabetes WA has committed to running more than 100 sessions – which are free for participants – over the next year. The ultimate goal is to deliver the programs to more than 1,000 Pilbara residents.

Recent statistics from the National Diabetes Services Scheme show the rates of diabetes among Pilbara residents over the age of 40 are above the national average.

In the Town of Port Hedland, 4.5% of 40- to 49-year-olds have diabetes compared to the national average of 3.9% and 8.5% of 50- to 59-year-olds have the condition compared to the national average of 7.4%.

More alarming are the rates of diabetes among older residents. More than one in five – or 21.1% – of Port Hedland’s residents aged between 60 and 69 have diabetes.

In more than 90% of cases, it is type 2 diabetes. Like type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes requires constant management, usually with lifestyle change and medication. If managed poorly, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications including limb amputations, impaired vision, heart disease and kidney failure.

“People tend to underestimate the seriousness of type 2 diabetes, yet the effect of this condition on a person’s life – and the lives of those who care for them – is immeasurable,” says Sophie McGough, Diabetes WA Health Services Operations Manager.

“People can drift for years without fully understanding the chronic disease they are living with and the consequences of the decisions they make to manage it.”

DESMOND (Diabetes Education and Self-Management for Ongoing and Newly Diagnosed) is a well-established program that equips people with type 2 diabetes with the knowledge and skills to confidently manage their type 2 diabetes.

Delivered by specially trained DESMOND Australia diabetes educators, the group program educates participants on what type 2 diabetes means for them and covers topics including food choices, physical activity and medication interactions.

Walking Away is designed for those who have pre-diabetes or who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. It helps participants to identify steps they can take to avoid or delay a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.

“We know that the number of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is growing exponentially in this country,” says Ms McGough. “The only way to stem that is by educating people and encouraging them to take some simple steps to reduce their risk.”

Book into a DESMOND or Walking Away session online or call 1300 001 880.