The Australian Government is aware of the significant impact that diabetes has on individuals and their families, and is committed to working towards the broad prevention of the disease, and its associated complications, in the Australian community. A National Diabetes Strategy (2016-20) has been developed which will guide national action and priorities to prevent diabetes and support Australians living with diabetes.
On 1 April 2017, the Minister for Health and Minister for Sport, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, announced that Australian Government would provide fully subsidised continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) products to eligible children and young people aged under 21 years with type 1 diabetes, in line with the commitment made during the 2016 Federal Election.
It is expected that children and young people who experience significant challenges in managing their blood glucose levels, particularly those who have difficulty identifying symptoms of hypoglycaemia, will benefit the most from this initiative.
To access CGM products through the National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), children and young adults under the age of 21 years, with type 1 diabetes, need to consult with their authorised health professional, who will assess their eligibility for access against specific criteria and ensure that the use of CGM is an appropriate component of their overall management plan for diabetes.
The Government, through the Department of Health, has worked collaboratively with an expert Advisory Group, including endocrinologists, credentialled diabetes educators and stakeholder organisations, such as the DANII Foundation, Diabetes Australia, JDRF and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, to implement this initiative.
The Advisory Group assisted in determining the eligibility criteria for this initiative and confirmed that young people under 21 years of age are the group with the highest clinical need for CGM technology.
The Government provides considerable support to people with diabetes under other programs already in operation. This includes the subsidy of essential medicines, like insulin, under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and diabetes-related products through the NDSS.
The NDSS was established in 1987 to provide the subsidised products and services needed for the effective self-management of diabetes. It delivers subsidised syringes and needles, blood glucose test strips, urine ketone test strips and insulin pump consumables to people with diabetes. The NDSS also provides educational and information services to assist in the best use of products and self-management of diabetes.
In 2015-16 expenditure on medicines for diabetes was over $538 million and expenditure on products for diabetes supplied through the NDSS was over $198 million. This Government also funded $35 million to the JDRF Clinical Research Network to help find a cure for juvenile diabetes.
The Government also funds an Insulin Pump Programme to increase the affordability of insulin pumps and associated consumables for families who have children aged 18 years and under with type 1 diabetes but do not have access to other means of reimbursement, such as private health insurance.