09/12/2011 02:56 EDT | Updated 11/12/2011 05:12 EST

Alberta has highest rate of diabetes but doesn't fund insulin pumps

EDMONTON - The Canadian Diabetes Association says Alberta has the fastest-growing rate of the illness in the country but doesn't have a publicly funded program to pay for insulin pumps.

The association says 217,000 people, or 5.8 per cent of Albertans, were diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes last year — and that's expected to go up to 8.6 per cent by 2020.

Association spokesman Mike Cloutier says many of those people could lead longer, healthier lives by using an insulin pump, but most can't afford to get one.

He suggests the increased cost to the province of covering the pumps would be more than made up for in long-term savings in health care.

A report by Cloutier's association says an insulin pump program could save Alberta up to $10.8 million in the next 20 years because there would be fewer health complications from diabetes.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky says he can't promise anything, but will look into the report. (CHED, CTV Edmonton)

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