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More help on the way for some Islanders with diabetes

·2 min read

The P.E.I. government announced Friday the timing of its expansion of its current insulin pump program that will extend benefits to Islanders with diabetes up to age 25. The previous age cutoff for the program was 18.

The province will also increase the number of glucose tests strips available through its diabetes drug program from 100 to 120 strips.

It's a commitment the province made in its 2020 budget, announced in June.

The other Atlantic provinces already cover insulin pumps for those up to age 25.

The changes to the programs are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2021.

"Diabetes [affects] more than 15,000 Islanders, and it is so important that we offer additional support to these individuals so they can live healthy, fulfilling lives without cost as a barrier," said Health Minister James Aylward in a news release.

Insulin pumps allow people with diabetes to auto-administer insulin rather than injecting a syringe throughout the day multiple times.

According to Diabetes Canada, there are more than 48,000 Islanders living with diabetes or prediabetes and prevalence is predicted to increase to 57,000 in 10 years as the population ages.

Age restriction remains

Advocates for more help for Islanders with diabetes have been calling on the province to lift the age restriction altogether, as Ontario, Alberta, B.C. and the three territories have. There was no mention of that in Friday's release.

Adam Bird/The Associated Press
Adam Bird/The Associated Press

Aylward also announced a new diabetes strategy for the next four years aimed at three key areas: prevention, detection and management — exactly the same goals the province had for its very first diabetes strategy, in place from 2014 to 2017.

"We want to work with Islanders to help reduce the risks of being diagnosed with diabetes; we want to make sure that more Islanders are screened for diabetes; and, we will help Islanders better manage diabetes so they can live healthy and active lives," the 2020-2024 strategy says.

In addition to financial assistance, Health PEI's provincial diabetes program offers education and advice to Islanders living with diabetes or those who are at risk of developing it, the release said.

Diabetes Canada said in the release it is pleased the province has aligned its goal with the organization's national strategy, called Diabetes 360°, and looks forward to working on it with government.

More from CBC P.E.I.