New program paves the way to better diabetes health in Hamilton


A new program aimed at improving diabetes health is now available to Hamilton area residents.

Diabetes Hamilton has been set up to address a key challenge to effective diabetes management – keeping up-to-date on how to prevent problems and stay healthy. The program will provide a number of information resources to people with diabetes, their physicians and other health care providers to help them better manage the condition.

Diabetes Hamilton is a unique public health approach to diabetes, differing from traditional resource-intensive health care interventions. “Our key goals are to create a more diabetes-friendly environment in Hamilton and to provide patients and care providers with the tools they need to better manage diabetes,” says Hertzel Gerstein, director, Diabetes Hamilton, and associate professor and director of endocrinology and metabolism in McMaster's Department of Medicine.

“People with diabetes who join the program will receive newsletters and other information that will help them take charge of their health and work more effectively as partners with their various care providers,” says Gerstein.

There is no cost to join Diabetes Hamilton, and new members are only required to submit a registration form. “Information that we collect will be compiled into a large registry, providing important data that will enable researchers and health planners to better understand the impact diabetes has on our community and help us to come up with new strategies for improving diabetes health,” Gerstein explains.

Registration packages for Diabetes Hamilton are available at over 65 locations in Hamilton, Ancaster, Dundas and Stoney Creek, including pharmacies, doctor's offices and health clinics. Packages are also available by calling the program office at ext. 22351.

Diabetes is a common chronic problem, affecting approximately 10 per cent of the population – about 40,000 in the Hamilton area alone. “It affects one in 14 adults over the age of 20, one in eight between the ages of 40 and 74 and about one in five over the age of 75,” says Gerstein.

Diabetes and its related complications cost the Canadian health care system about $10 billion annually, a figure which is expected to grow as the population ages and as more people develop the condition.

According to Gerstein, diabetes is a leading cause of many serious health problems such as blindness, amputations, heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. “Fortunately, there is strong scientific evidence to show that, with good diabetes management, people with diabetes can avoid such complications and lead long, healthy lives,” he says.

Diabetes Hamilton is assisted by an advisory board that includes a broad range of local diabetes stakeholders, including consumer, provider and public health representatives. The program is supported by a grant from Health Canada's Health Transition Fund.