Key health experts and organisations will unite in Alice Springs this week with one goal: to stop the Territory’s diabetes epidemic.
The NT Diabetes Summit, a collaboration between NT Health, NT PHN, Menzies School of Health Research, AMSANT and the Australian Government, will be held at the Alice Springs Convention Centre as well as online from 3-4 November.
The Summit comes at a critical time with the rates of diabetes among Aboriginal people in remote NT communities among the highest in the world and growing.
Research by Menzies shows 17% of Aboriginal people in remote NT communities have diabetes (of which 99% is classified as type 2 diabetes)—up from 14.4% in 2012.
In adults, 29% have diabetes, with the burden highest in the Central Australia region, where a staggering 40% of adults now have the condition. Diabetes is also a leading contributor to other health concerns like kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, impaired vision and amputations due to infections.
NT Primary Health Network Executive Manager Strategy, Planning and Performance, Rob Moore, said the Summit was urgently needed to bring together the key minds and decision makers to take immediate steps to address the crisis.
“This is a global reputation we don’t want,” he said.
“The rates of diabetes in aboriginal people are higher than they have ever been, the highest of any population in the world and increasing. There is an urgent need to take decisive action and implement new strategies to help prevent and treat diabetes in our remote communities.
“We know a range of factors contribute to diabetes in Aboriginal people such as social, economic and cultural inequities, lack of access to nutritionally adequate food and proper health care.
“The key is to use our research, work together and share our knowledge to drive real change in these alarming statistics.”
More than 200 delegates and Key Speakers are expected to attend the conference, which importantly will hear from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander presenters and panellists highlighting lived experience and the intergenerational diabetes story in NT remote communities.
The second day of the Summit will focus on a multi-sector approach and organisation-wide collaboration on the social determinants of health such as housing, education, physical environment and food security.
The full NT Diabetes Summit program is available here.