Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
WASHINGTON The following message was written in observance of World Diabetes Day by Robert G. McSwain, acting director of Indian Health Service:
World's Tallest Tepee lighted blue for World Diabetes Day
in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada
Today, November 14, has been designated World Diabetes Day by the United Nations. On December 20, 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed a landmark resolution recognizing diabetes as a chronic, debilitating, and costly disease. The resolution designates World Diabetes Day as a United Nations Day to be observed every year starting in 2007. Currently more than 240 million people worldwide are living with diabetes. Within 20 years, this number is expected to grow to 380 million. World Diabetes Day is being acknowledged around the world to raise awareness of this growing global problem of diabetes.
I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of our IHS Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant programs and all the dedicated employees associated with them. In 1997 Congress authorized this program for "the prevention and treatment of diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives." Now in its tenth year, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians is a $150 million per year grant program that provides funding for diabetes treatment and prevention services at 399 IHS, Tribal, and Urban Indian health programs. With leadership from the IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention and the Tribal Leaders Diabetes Committee, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant programs use proven, evidence-based, and community driven diabetes treatment and prevention strategies and best practices that address each stage of the disease.
Over the past 10 years, American Indian and Alaska Native communities have used Special Diabetes Program for Indians funding to make quality diabetes practices commonplace in our local health care facilities. As a result, key clinical outcome measures in American Indians and Alaska Natives with diabetes such as blood sugar control, blood lipid levels, and kidney function have significantly improved.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control recently showed that, while rates of dialysis due to diabetes related kidney failure continue to rise in other populations, in Native communities these rates have been going down since 1996. These improvements not only enhance the quality of life of people with diabetes, but also help the Indian health system reduce the cost burden of diabetes in our communities.
In addition to these successes in clinical outcomes, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians helped create diabetes treatment and prevention programs where none existed before, as well as enhance programs that were already in place. These programs employ successful, proven strategies to address key areas of diabetes treatment and prevention across the entire life span.
Here are some key improvements that have occurred since the inception of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. In 2006:
As these results illustrate, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant program has succeeded in implementing innovative, nationwide interventions to address the growing epidemic of diabetes. The scope of this program is unprecedented. Guided by both the scientific literature and community driven priorities, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant program has helped health programs, Tribal leaders, and IHS collectively build one of the most comprehensive diabetes treatment and prevention programs in the United States.
The Special Diabetes Program for Indians has helped improve the health of American Indians and Alaska Natives and the quality of life in many American Indian and Alaska Native communities. The successes we have achieved together so far, however, represent only the beginning of what we can achieve when Congress, Tribes, Urban programs, and the IHS work together as partners toward a shared goal. Much work remains to be done, but the belief among our Native communities is strong that we are on the path to a diabetes free future.
Take a moment today to acknowledge your co-workers who have helped to make the Special Diabetes Program for Indians the success that it is today.
Robert G. McSwain
Indian Health Service
posted November 14, 2012 10:30 am est