Written Answers. - Diabetes Incidence Growth.

Trevor Sargent

Question:

98 Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the growing incidence of diabetes in the country, particularly among children; and the plans, if any, he has to address this problem through education, preventative measures and provisions for treatment. [8786/96]

The Deputy will be pleased to learn that mortality rates from diabetes in this country are lower than the European average.

There are two forms of diabetes, insulin-dependent diabetes which usually occurs before 25 years of age, possibl in early childhood. At this time it is not known why children develop diabetes. The second form of diabetes, non-insulin dependent diabetes, occurs in adulthood. Children with diabetes are often symptomatic and come to medical attention quickly. However, people with poorly controlled diabetes or who do not know that they have diabetes may develop the complications associated with diabetes. These include heart attack, stroke, poor circulation to the legs and damage to the eyesight and kidneys. The health promotion unit of my Department has therefore provided financial support over the past number of years for information programmes to raise awareness of diabetes and the ways in which the complications associated with it can be prevented.

Ireland is a signatory to the St. Vincent's Declaration, an initiative of the World Health Organisation. The Declaration set out clear outcome targets aimed at reducing major health problems associated with diabetes and identified the indicators that can be used to monitor progress towards these targets.

A diabetic action group has been established in response to the declaration, with representation from professional groups and voluntary organisations which deal with the condition. The Department of Health has observer status on the group. In December 1995 a preliminary workshop was held by the groups to look at the current services available to people with diabetes. Another workshop is scheduled to take place next month. I am sure that the reports of these workshops will be of valuable assistance to my Department in the effective planning of services. In addition, my Department will continue to liaise with the World Health Organisation in working towards achieving the targets set by the declaration.