Diabetes As An Election Pawn

The Australian government recently pledged $54 million towards subsidising Continuous Glucose Monitoring technology in children under the age of 21 if re-elected this year.

While I am happy for the children and young families who may see benefit from this technology, I also felt rather saddened that I would be left out. It was difficult to digest comments from Health Minister Sussan Ley that seemed to imply that glucose monitoring issues were only pertinent to young people.

I do sympathise with young children and their families. I’ve often acknowledged that diabetes may be more challenging in an adolescent context. However, my time in the Diabetes Online Community has taught me that everyone’s diabetes is different. People are diagnosed with type 1 at all different stages in their lives. Each person’s experiences are unique. Each person’s experiences are equally challenging.

It shouldn’t be a case of who needs it more than the other. I shouldn’t have to justify my need for a CGM over a child’s. Or a teenager’s. Or a person older than me. We shouldn’t be at war with each other, when we are all walking the same path.

I’ve been using the FreeStyle Libre for two weeks (Abbott supplied me with a reader and two sensors free of charge), which is the closest I’ll ever get to having a CGM. The data, and the insight it supplies me with is amazing. Not having to prick my sore fingers is nothing short of amazing. Yet the cost puts this technology out of reach should I wish to use it. I’m a young adult on a less than spectacular wage, and I can think of a million other things I’d rather put my money towards.

I do tip my hat to Diabetes Australia and JDRF Australia, who, among others, have lobbied tirelessly with the government in search of this outcome over the years. I might also add that Diabetes Australia’s submission to the federal government did not have an age limit. The submission was based on clinical need, including cases such as pregnant women with diabetes and those with impaired hypo awareness, among other categories.

While many saw this as a cause for celebration, I still digest it with a grain of salt. This pledge has been conveniently made ahead of a federal election in Australia, even though Australians have been lobbying for several years without a lot of progress. As with any promise that is made, it can just as easily be broken.

But it is, however, a start.

You can read all the details here, and Diabetes Australia’s media release here.