[singlepic id=282 w=320 h=240 float=left] Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt today launched a diabetes prevention program in Innisfail on behalf of Health Minister Geoff Wilson.

Mr Pitt said residents across the Far North will be able to access a free health check up designed to help prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes under the program.

He said Innisfail, Babinda, Tully, Mission Beach, Fishery Falls and the Aboriginal community of Jumbun are included in the pilot.

“The Diabetes Community Care Pilot is set to provide an integrated approach to diabetes prevention and community care,” Mr Pitt said.

“300,000 Queenslanders are now at risk of developing diabetes – and early intervention is the key to tackling it.

“We know that Type 2 diabetes can be effectively prevented and managed, and that’s what this program is all about.

“That’s why the Bligh government committed $7.5 million in funding in 2010 for a diabetes prevention, early intervention and management package.”

Mr Pitt said more than $600,000 has been allocated to expand the existing Cairns and Hinterland Health Service District’s Healthier Great Green Way (HGGW) initiative targeting Type 2 diabetes.

Mr Wilson said the project would build on services and initiatives already being provided.

“A number of new initiatives will be trialled under the diabetes package as part of an integrated model of diabetes care,” Mr Wilson said.

“The aim of the pilot is to intervene in the lifestyles of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes as well as those at high risk of developing it.

“What this means for patients is they will be referred directly by their GP into group-based or specialist programs addressing key risk factors like physical activity and nutrition.

“It will provide more options and support for people trying to make meaningful and lasting changes in their lives, through things like diet, physical activity and quitting smoking.”

The Healthier Great Green Way is a coalition involving Queensland Health, the Far North Queensland Rural Division of General Practice, and Mamu Health Service.

Today’s launch was held in partnership with the National Stroke Foundation, which is also running a campaign to raise awareness about diabetes.

The foundation’s Know your Numbers Diabetes Pilot is a Queensland Government-funded program that aims to increase awareness of high blood pressure and diabetes risk.

National Stroke Foundation CEO Dr Erin Lalor said early intervention was vital in preventing future problems.

“It’s estimated those at risk of diabetes will have the condition for four to seven years before it is diagnosed,” Dr Lalor said.

“This can allow irreversible damages to occur and can result in serious complications like cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, blindness and limb amputations.

“Through our program people who are assessed as high risk will be referred to their GP for further assessment to determine their risk of diabetes and stroke and from there action will be recommend.

“It provides an excellent opportunity for people to take simple steps to stop preventable diseases such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

“By simply making smart food choices, exercising regularly and by gaining and maintaining a healthy weight, all Queenslanders can substantially reduce their risk of developing diabetes.”