With nearly 26 million adults and children living with diabetes in the U.S., and another 79 million with prediabetes, the diabetes epidemic is one of the greatest public health crises our country is facing. While diabetes can affect anyone, the problem is greater for minority populations, which are disproportionately affected by the disease. African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native communities have a higher incidence of diabetes, and are often less able to obtain the care they need to manage their disease.
Living with diabetes can often be challenging, and can be made more difficult when access to proper care and resources are not available. To help solve this, we must find ways we can educate and empower high-risk populations and provide the tools they need to lead healthier lives. To address this issue, the American Diabetes Association held its sixth annual Disparities Partnership Forum on Oct. 21 and 22.
As President of Health Care & Education, I was delighted to attend this event and come together to collaborate with a distinguished and nationally acclaimed group of health experts including Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Louis W. Sullivan, MD; motivational speaker and clinical psychologist, Robin L. Smith, PhD; community pioneer, Pedro Jose Greer, MD; and celebrity guest speaker J. Anthony Brown. Also participating in the event were the Association’s Chief Executive Officer, Larry Hausner, MBA; Chief Scientific & Medical Officer, Robert Ratner, MD, FACP, FACE; and Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Community Information, Jane Chiang, MD.
The forum also featured the 2013 Community Spirit Awards ceremony, where members of the diabetes community were honored for their efforts to Stop Diabetes®. Honorees included J. Anthony Brown, comedian and national radio host; Sefa Aina, Associate Dean and Director, Asian American Resource Center, Pomona College; Jeffrey Henderson, MD, MPH, President/CEO and Patricia Nez Henderson, MD, MPH, Vice President, both of the Black Hills Center for American Indian Health; Ivelisse Estrada, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Community Relations, Univision Communications, Inc.; and Manny Hernandez, President of Diabetes Hands Foundation.
The forum provided communities and health care leaders from across the country the opportunity to work together to identify ways we can reduce health disparities and the impact of diabetes within these communities. For the past six years, we have convened this event and we are hopeful that this year’s productivity will help us in the fight to Stop Diabetes. For more information on the Association, our community programs and our work to eliminate health disparities, visit diabetes.org.
Lurelean B. Gaines, RN, MSN is President, Health Care & Education for the American Diabetes Association. In addition, she served as member of the Disparities Partnership Forum advisory planning committee.