Western Sydney is a diabetes hotspot with disease rates higher than the New South Wales (NSW) average. If this 'hotspot' is not addressed, within a decade it will cause an unsustainable economic and societal burden on the state's healthcare system. Western Sydney faces some daunting issues as the social determinants of health that promote healthy eating, active living and social inclusion are not working favourably to prevent diabetes and its progression.
The Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) initiative has been established in response to the growing threat diabetes poses to our community's health and wellbeing. It calls for all levels of government, the private sector and non-government partners to work together. The WSD initiative recognises that diabetes is everybody's business and that partnerships between community health services, general practice, hospitals, specialist practices and allied health need to be improved so that people with diabetes or at risk of diabetes have access to more integrated and comprehensive diabetes services.
We are not alone in recognising the need for action. Diabetes is a mounting problem for all of NSW. In 2014, 9.4% of the state's population had diabetes or high blood glucose, up from 6.4% in 2002. The NSW Premier has included obesity in his own and State-wide priorities. The pending launch of the NSW Diabetes Prevention Framework co-ordinates diabetes-related work across the state, identifies enhancements to evidence-based practice and sets a range of strategic directions for NSW Local Health Districts (LHDs) for decreasing the risk of developing diabetes or diabetes complications in local populations. The Australian Government recently released 'The Australian National Diabetes Strategy 2016-2020' in which it was estimated that diabetes is costing Australia $14 billion per year. The Strategy states that "overcoming the many barriers to improving diabetes prevention and care requires a multi-sectoral response led by governments and implemented at the community level".
In response to this health crisis, Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and WentWest as the Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WSPHN) have facilitated a whole-of-district methodology through Western Sydney Diabetes (WSD) initiative. The partnership and the project leaders of the programs working together in the WSD initiative have an excellent track record of success.
The Western Sydney Diabetes initiative is mobilising key leaders and champions in health and beyond to come together to recognise and address this problem. We are engaged with federal, state and local leaders to join the effort.
We are engaging non-government organisations, the private sector, hospital specialists, general practitioners, allied health and pharmacies to join in. We are utilising digital technology such as eHealth and smartphone apps to help patients, doctors and other healthcare providers to share information and better manage diabetes and prevent complications.
We want Western Sydney to move from being a hot spot for diabetes to being an exemplar on how to tackle this issue at a local community level. In alignment with national and state strategies addressing diabetes, Western Sydney will become a real world example for successful prevention and management of diabetes.
We invite you to help achieve our goal and be a part of our journey.