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The cost of diabetes in Aotearoa New Zealand

Investment in prevention of diabetes could have a significantly positive impact on New Zealand’s economy and society.

A new report has been released on the economic and social costs of diabetes in Aotearoa New Zealand. Professors Jim Mann and Rachael Taylor from the University of Otago were expert advisors to authors PwC New Zealand. The report predicts the epidemic of type 2 diabetes will continue to grow rapidly but suggests how preventive action could ‘flatten the curve’.

  • The number of New Zealanders with type 2 diabetes is expected to increase by 70-90% in 20 years
  • The annual cost of diabetes of NZ$ 2.1 billion is projected to increase by 63% to$3.5 billion in 20 years
  • There is a shift toward younger people developing type 2 diabetes, which increases the economic impact
  • Inequities in health will worsen for Pacific, Asian and Maori populations

The report showed significant cost savings could be gained from four interventions:

  1. Healthy People, Healthy Lives - community-centred lifestyle programme
  2. Owning our Futures – reversal of type 2 diabetes
  3. Better Diabetes Medications - better management of type 2 diabetes
  4. Foot Screening and Protection - prevention of serious complications such as amputation for people with type 2 diabetes

Savings could be driven primarily by reducing health costs and increasing economic value through increasing life expectancy and productivity.

Professor Jim Mann wrote about the report,

“New Zealand’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how effective a co-ordinated, government- and science-led approach can be in tackling a major health problem. We need a similar approach and resolve to tackle the type 2 diabetes epidemic…We urgently need a national strategy for tackling type 2 diabetes to change the trajectory New Zealand is currently on. If we don’t act now the scale of the problem in 20 years’ time is almost unimaginable.”


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