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The Special Diabetes Program for Indians provides for more than 450 community-directed programs, allowing local tribes and health programs to set priorities that meet their needs, including prevention activities or treatment. American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all racial and ethnic groups in the U.S. These education and treatment programs have led to improvements in blood glucose control, reductions in amputation rates and improvements in preventing kidney failure. The benefits we have already seen and those we are poised to achieve for individuals with diabetes demand that we strengthen this successful program.
We understand how difficult the economic climate is. But considering the physical toll and economic burden that diabetes and its complications have on this country, a multiyear renewal of the program’s funding represents a relatively small but unquestionably wise investment on behalf of our country.
November is National Diabetes Month, a time for all of us to work together to reaffirm our commitment to ending one of the most prevalent, deadly and costly diseases. The Special Diabetes Program serves as a cost-effective model of how a focused federal effort can produce significant returns: saving lives, improving the future for people with diabetes and moving closer to finding a cure. We see the CDC’s report as a reminder and an incentive to encourage education about diabetes and to focus on funding programs that will protect our future.
Larry Hausner is the CEO of the American Diabetes Association, Jeffrey Brewer serves as president and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Stacy A. Bohlen is the executive director of the National Indian Health Board.