HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced $100 million in grants to support programs to prevent and treat diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives, especially among children and teenagers.
“These grants support hundreds of programs to help people in Indian Country who are at risk for diabetes to take the right steps to prevent the disease’s onset and to provide needed services to those who already have diabetes,” Secretary Thompson said. “All Americans should know that you don’t have to be a marathon runner or starve yourself to prevent diabetes. You can take small steps to become more active and improve your diet that will make a real difference.”
Funded through HHS’ Indian Health Service (IHS), the grants will go to 318 tribal, urban Indian, Indian organizations and IHS health programs to support diabetes prevention and treatment programs, including efforts to reduce cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes.
Most of these programs involve elements aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes among Indian youth. This has been an area of particular concern among tribes. These youth-focused efforts include obesity screenings, weight-management programs and school-based physical activity programs. In addition, the grants also support activities to provide diabetes prevention and treatment services to adults, including individual nutritional counseling, diabetes education and outreach activities, the use of diabetes teams to improve patient care and community walking programs.
About 17 million Americans have diabetes today, including about 16 million with type 2. In addition, at least 16 million more Americans have pre-diabetes — a condition that raises a person’s risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
On average, American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.6 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites of similar age. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer among American Indians and Alaska Natives, and diabetes is directly involved in a substantial majority of the incidence of cardiovascular disease among these populations.
The grants are part of IHS’ Special Diabetes Program for Indians, which was created by Congress in 1998 to address the growing impact of diabetes on American Indians and Alaska Natives. In November, Congress voted to reauthorize the program for five additional years through fiscal year 2008.
“Continuing to fund these programs will bring us even closer to reaching a shared goal of this Administration and Tribal Governments — eliminating the health disparity of diabetes in American Indian and Alaska Native communities,” said Charles W. Grim, interim director of the IHS. “These programs, along with sound lifestyle and nutritional choices and personal responsibility for health, can help us restore the health of our communities and give our children and grandchildren a healthier future.”
Since coming to HHS, Secretary Thompson has led a broad effort to reduce the impact of diabetes on Americans, especially through prevention. In November, HHS’ National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) launched a national education campaign emphasizing that modest lifestyle changes can do much to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. The campaign reflects the results of an HHS-sponsored clinical trial on diabetes prevention.
The IHS is distributing the funds to grantees throughout the fiscal year in four stages.
The list of grantees is available at: