15 November 2006

S2M-5099 World Diabetes Day

Scottish Parliament

Wednesday 15 November 2006

[THE PRESIDING OFFICER opened the meeting at 14:30]

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World Diabetes Day

The Deputy Presiding Officer (Murray Tosh): The final item of business today is a members' business debate on motion S2M-5099, in the name of David Davidson, on world diabetes day 2006. The debate will be concluded without any question being put.
Motion debated,

That the Parliament expresses its support for World Diabetes Day 2006 on 14 November and the launch of the year-long campaign to raise awareness of the impact of diabetes among disadvantaged and vulnerable groups; notes the campaign's message that every person with diabetes, or at risk of diabetes, deserves the best quality of education, prevention and care that is possible; is concerned that people on the lowest incomes are around twice as likely as those on the highest incomes to develop type 2 diabetes and that the prevalence of diabetes in the most deprived areas is over two-thirds higher than in the most affluent; further notes that black and minority ethnic groups are at least five times more likely to develop diabetes than their Caucasian counterparts and are more likely to live in more deprived areas; recognises the developing epidemic of diabetes in young people in Scotland, and believes that the Scottish Executive should ensure that the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable groups are fully addressed in the roll-out of the Scottish Diabetes Framework: Action Plan and that resources for diabetes awareness, screening and early intervention treatment to reduce long-term costs to the NHS are made available to all of Scotland's NHS boards.


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Stewart Stevenson (Banff and Buchan) (SNP): I congratulate David Davidson on securing a debate on this important subject. I frequently disagree with him on political matters, but on this occasion I pay tribute to him as a practical example of longevity in a diabetic, which serves as a model of what can be achieved. He also illustrates perfectly some of the points that he made. Although I disagree with him, he is articulate and able to engage with his condition, understand it and ensure that he is managing it. The best way to manage a lifelong condition is for the person who is subject to it to be a key part of the management. That illustrates why there are difficulties in more disadvantaged communities in which people have less capability.

Like Eleanor Scott, I have examined the figures. Having had a brief exchange with her, I think we agree that the prevalence of type 1 diabetes is higher in the Highlands than it is anywhere else in Scotland but, paradoxically, the prevalence of diabetes overall is lower in the Highlands than it is in many other parts of Scotland. That means that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the Highlands is low compared with the rest of Scotland. The reason for that is that people who live in a rural area such as the Highlands are much healthier and fitter psychologically, physically and dietetically, even though there is deprivation in rural areas. City deprivation, in particular, is a problem.

About one in 25 of our population has diabetes. The interesting question to pose is what proportion of people with diabetes have intrinsically avoidable diabetes. The answer is that a very high proportion of people with diabetes have essentially avoidable diabetes, because type 2 diabetes is environmental and diet based.

I have been doing my bit to constrain the further development of diabetes. I will name names. When I found Jamie Stone and Frank McAveety eating chips in the members' lounge during the stage 3 process that we started today, I pointed out the health risks that they were running and told them that they were in conflict with the Executive's policies and practices, which I support. Perhaps the minister will have a reinforcing word with them.

As David Davidson said, diabetes is a worldwide problem—but we should consider some uniquely Scottish aspects of the issue. Scotland was one of the first countries in the world to have a world-class medical school, which was located in Edinburgh. The huge morbidity on the doorstep of the medical school in the old town of Edinburgh provided a climate in which people could study the conditions that were engaging practitioners in medicine in the middle ages.

As various genetic links are associated with type 1 diabetes and as, with record-keeping that is superior to that of many other developed countries, we have a very good understanding of the genetic mix of the people in this country, we have a key opportunity to take a lead in research into how we can prevent the development of type 1 diabetes and continue, support and reinforce a primarily diet-focused approach to dealing with type 2 diabetes.

Of course, we also have to engage with the psychology of people whose behaviour, as far as diabetes is concerned, is not good for their health. As other members have pointed out, diabetes is accompanied by a wide range of other conditions that not only damage people's quality of life but incur substantial public costs. That should give us a clue about where we should look for the money to invest in world-class research that would benefit the people of Scotland and make a contribution to the rest of the world.

By the way, coming to the Parliament might be one solution. My blood pressure is 30 points lower, which helps a wee bit. That said, my diet might not be any better for being here.

We certainly have to engage with the problem. I congratulate David Davidson on securing this debate and am interested in hearing what the minister has to say.

18:21 Categories [Health and Community Care]

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