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'Diabetes is a killer' - Dr James Muecke AM, 2020 Australian of the Year

Posted on May 06 2020

 The following is the second in a series of weekly guest posts from 2020 Australian of the Year, Dr James Muecke. 

About Dr Muecke

56-year-old Dr James Muecke AM is passionate about fighting blindness. His focus is the leading cause of blindness in working age adults – type 2 diabetes – a spiralling epidemic that in some regions of Australia is impacting over one-in-ten people. It's also the fastest growing cause of vision loss in Aboriginal people and the sixth-biggest killer in this country. James wants to challenge our perception of sugar and its toxic impact on the development of type 2 diabetes.

James co-founded Sight For All, a social impact organisation aiming to create a world where everyone can see. Sight For All’s comprehensive and sustainable educational strategies are impacting on the lives of over one million people each year. 

With 80% of world blindness avoidable – and almost 90% in low income countries – James treats blindness as a human rights issue

This is the second piece in this series, to read the first message click here

Diabetes is a killer

There is an estimated 1.7 million Aussies living with diabetes, the sixth biggest killer in our country, a growing epidemic, and the greatest threat to our health system.

Impotence, numbness and disabling pain of the hands and feet, gangrene of the feet and legs requiring amputation of the lower limbs, kidney failure requiring daily filtering of the blood by dialysis, and stroke, are just some of the life-changing or life-threatening complications that menacingly await people with this insidious disease. Heart attack is the commonest cause of death, indeed 68% of patients with diabetes will die of heart attack.

Dealing with the complications of diabetes is expensive (the total annual cost impact in Australia is estimated to be close to $20 billion) and is counter intuitive – we should all be aware of the risk factors that underly most cases of diabetes, type 2 diabetes, and how we can prevent the disease in the first place, not waiting for the complications to arise before we act.

It’s easy to nominate now for the 2021 Awards, just complete the online nomination form at

Want to read more? Click here to read the next blog!


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