Alliance to tackle growing tide of diabetes in West Moreton

An innovative alliance with key health sector partners has been established in West Moreton to address the growing prevalence of diabetes in the community.

The West Moreton Diabetes Alliance has been established to work collaboratively to enable the West Moreton community to make healthy lifestyle choices, prevent diabetes and improve the lives of people living with the disease, and those touched by it. To do this, the Alliance will address four key pillars – leadership and advocacy within the health sector, awareness within the community, access to care for community members and education for health professionals and the community.

Members of the Alliance include Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN, West Moreton Health, The University of Queensland, University of Southern Queensland, Ipswich Hospital Foundation, Kambu Health, Diabetes Queensland and Ipswich City Council.

Darling Downs and West Moreton PHN CEO Merrilyn Strohfeldt said the Alliance would contribute to improving available resources and support for people living with diabetes in the West Moreton region.

"The aim of the West Moreton Diabetes Alliance is to bring together key players in the health sector to problem solve innovative ways we can better support people living with diabetes," Ms Strohfeldt said. Recent data shows that 6.8 percent of general practice patients living in the West Moreton region have diabetes, with Type 2 being the most prevalent. Diabetes is also the leading cause of preventable hospitalisations in the West Moreton Health region.

West Moreton Health Chief Executive Dr Kerrie Freeman said that lifestyle changes can have a big impact for people living with chronic conditions like diabetes.

"Currently 74.5 percent of residents within the West Moreton Health area are not within a healthy weight range, and this compares to the Queensland average of 67.7 percent. We know excess weight has a major impact on chronic conditions like diabetes,” Dr Freeman said.

West Moreton Diabetes Alliance Chair Hon Rachel Nolan said the Alliance was critical to addressing a growing tide of ill health in region.

"Right now, we know that diabetes affects 6.8% of people locally, though it is likely there is also a significant undiagnosed cohort. "We know too that without serious preventative action the incidence of diabetes will grow – leaving local people open to risks of heart disease, stroke and a life of chronic illness and placing unsustainable pressure on the health system.

"The Alliance aims to better co-ordinate care for people living with diabetes but our Strategy also envisages serious action on prevention. "We need to change the poor urban planning, car dependency and overwhelming availability of unhealthy food which is driving the majority of our community to be overweight and potentially unwell."

"When it comes to diabetes, the health system is an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff. Turning the tide requires broad community engagement."

"That’s why the Alliance has been established as a collaborative partnership."

The West Moreton Diabetes Alliance and its initial strategy was officially launched on Tuesday, 22 June 2021.