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In order to make informed decisions about where the real burdens of diabetes lie and what Australia can do to respond, an understanding is needed of what happens at the national level. The Baker Institute has recently linked the National Diabetes Service Scheme data, a registry of over 1.2 million Australians with diabetes, to the National Death Index and the Australian cancer database to show rising cancer rates in diabetes and a 12-year gap in life expectancy for people with type 1 diabetes. The Institute’s epidemiology experts are now extending this work to link the diabetes register to national prescription data and to the national kidney dialysis and transplant register. This will highlight patterns and inequalities in the treatment of diabetes and provide the first accurate description of whether or not there is progress in preventing kidney failure. It will also highlight whether diabetes is leading to an excess of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Only through such large and powerful databases can information be produced to accurately guide policy and practice, and improve the outlook for people with diabetes.

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With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

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