I don’t really have a great deal of faith in a cure for diabetes. I do believe that we have lost sight of curing diabetes. While technology may be exciting (case in point), every new entry onto the market merely seems to be a pathway to the next product or upgraded system in the pipeline. There does not seem to be an end goal of eliminating the need for these devices altogether and curing diabetes. Perhaps people like me are to blame for feeding this diabetes technology frenzy.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending Diabetes Research Western Australia’s Exploring Diabetes Expo to hear about some of the latest and greatest diabetes research being funded in WA.
Of course, the best thing about attending events like these is connecting with new and familiar faces in the diabetes community here in Perth. I met someone who was looking for answers to better manage his type 2 diabetes. I overheard a father talking about his newly diagnosed type 1 daughter, attending to try and get on top of it. It was also great to catch up with a few familiar faces.
Being surrounded by supporters of diabetes research and people in the scientific community, I was reminded of my time at the ADS-ADEA conference last year, where the company of people with diabetes is not the norm. I really felt that some of these people could benefit from spending more time in the company of people with diabetes.
The highlight of my morning was hearing Professor Tim Jones, head of Endocrinology at Perth Children’s Hospital, speak about closed loop systems. Despite all of the advances in technology, blood glucose control hasn’t improved in the last five to ten years and only 20% of patients are meeting blood glucose targets.
My heart sank hearing Professor Jones tell the audience that reason for this is that type 1 diabetes is simply a hard condition to manage.
I have no doubt that type 1 diabetes is a difficult condition to manage. But equally, I feel that clinics are under resourced and people fall through the cracks, unable to reach their full potential. One fabulous person with diabetes in attendance lamented her frustration at having to hear about new technologies through peers, rather than her healthcare professionals. Another friend in attendance lamented that the public system has little to be desired with it’s very long waiting periods.
The morning also introduced us to some awesome Artificial Intelligence retinopathy screening, which I’m not quite sure differed too much from that of an Ophthalmologist or even an Optometry screening.
There were also sugar free cupcakes, a coffee van and a great view of Lake Monger on a glorious Winter day.
Admittedly, diabetes research is not something that I can get excited about. Not like I do with the tech. But if there is one person that gives me hope in a cure for diabetes, it is Sherl Westlund, director of Diabetes Research WA. Sherl’s passion for the research grants her organisation provides gives me a glimmer of hope that we will find a cure for diabetes, hopefully in my lifetime.
If there’s one thing that I really do need, it’s hope.