Children to Benefit From Insulin Pump Program

April 9, 2013

More than 1,000 children and young adults from across Nova Scotia will have another option to help manage their diabetes with new provincial funding for insulin pumps and supplies.

“Many families manage this disease with injections. For other families, however, an insulin pump means more freedom and flexibility for their children,” said Premier Darrell Dexter.

“Families told us this was important to them, and we listened.”

The funding will cover eligible youth to age 18 for insulin pumps and supplies. It will also cover supplies for people 19 to 25 with type 1 diabetes, who use an insulin pump.

The province expects to begin taking applications by July 31.

“Diabetes is clearly a very complex chronic disease and a significant burden within the Nova Scotia population,” said David Wilson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “Government has been addressing the issues related to diabetes, and examining what more can be done to alleviate some of the burden and support, and potentially improve the management of the disease.”

Cape Breton resident Jennifer Bussey, a mother of three children with type 1 diabetes, said she has been waiting for this news.

Ms. Bussey’s community fundraised to buy her daughter Avery an insulin pump 12 years ago. Ms. Bussey said her children still need to work to maintain their health with an insulin pump, but it gives them more flexibility.

“After she got the pump, we could take a drive on a hot summer’s day, and if she wanted an ice cream cone, on impulse, we could do it,” said Ms. Avery. “It’s the simple things that most kids take for granted. I’m just glad that the children who otherwise couldn’t afford a pump, will get the chance to get one.”

Diabetes centres that work with children will help them and their families learn what is involved in insulin pump therapy, and when a pump is a good choice. The 38 diabetes centres across the province can link families with these specialized diabetes experts.

Rob Lawson, a 21-year-old Dartmouth resident, has been struggling to afford insulin pump supplies since he turned 19 and lost his parents’ insurance coverage.

“I don’t want to have to go back to needles,” said Mr. Lawson. “Paying for insulin pump supplies is costly; it’s like paying double rent.”

The funding will support a needs-based program. Families with private medical insurance will apply to their insurance plan first.

“We applaud the province for this important investment in diabetes,” said Lisa Matte, regional director of the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“We look forward to working closely with government to ensure that the program meets the needs of Nova Scotians who would benefit.”

People with type 1 diabetes need insulin injections because the insulin producing cells of the pancreas have been destroyed. It occurs most often with children and youth, but can sometimes happen to people up to age 40.