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ADA Recognizes Innovative Approaches to Diabetes Treatment and Prevention in Indian Country

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Several Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) were recently recognized for their effective diabetes treatment and prevention services in American Indian and Alaska Native communities by American Diabetes Association’s  John Pipe Voices For Change Award. SDPIs provide Indian health programs and tribal communities the resources and tools they need to both prevent and treat diabetes. The awards—divided in the three categories of advocacy, outcomes and innovation—were presented at the National Indian Health Board’s 28th Annual Consumer Conference in Anchorage, Alaska, September 26-29.

“American Indian and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the United States,” said Gale Marshall, chair of the American Diabetes Association’s Awakening the Spirit Native American Subcommittee. “These award recipients are working to change the future of diabetes by developing innovative and successful diabetes prevention and treatment programs, activities and resources.”

The awards honor the memory of John Pipe, a member of the Association’s Native American Initiatives Subcommittee and a long-time diabetes advocate from Wolf Point, Montana who affected countless tribal communities by raising awareness of diabetes prevention from his local community to Washington D.C.

Advocacy Award:

NATIVE HEALTH Diabetes Program
Phoenix, Arizona

The NATIVE HEALTH Diabetes Program educates American Indians about type 2 diabetes prevention and promotes healthier lives with positive lifestyle changes. For 11 years, the Program’s Living Well Traditionally Youth Camp has taught youth ages 9-14 about the importance of physical fitness, self esteem and nutrition. The camp is creating a new generation of children who are advocating for diabetes prevention in their community.

Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium
Sitka, Alaska

The Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), an SDPI Demonstration Project, involves clinical activities and community events focused on increasing physical activity and healthy nutrition. The community events, based on local cultural traditions, create sustainable, healthy changes both within the family and in the community. This year’s programs focused on two public health social marketing campaigns, Know Your ABC's and Know Your Numbers. Both campaigns targeted medical providers, people living with diabetes or prediabetes or people at risk for diabetes. These campaigns were delivered via luncheons, displays and community events.

Outcomes Award:

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Yakama IHS Healthy Heart Program
Toppenish, Washington

The Yakama IHS Healthy Heart Program is an SDPI Demonstration Project designed to reduce cardiovascular disease in their patients with diabetes. They have successfully used a collaborative approach to diabetes care by incorporating tribal culture with modern medicine. Its unique case management system for patients with type 2 diabetes utilizes pharmacists as a key component to individualized diabetes care. The pharmacists emphasize medication management but also have training and expertise in disease management. The Healthy Heart participants meet with their prospective pharmacist clinical case manager monthly or bi-monthly depending upon need and control of diabetes, hypertension and lipids.

In addition, participants are welcomed and encouraged to manage their diabetes through culturally appropriate activities and traditional foods. Partnerships with other programs have resulted in bison distribution, root digging trips, salmon preservation and berry picking. Physical exercise is encouraged as family units with a traditional Pow Wow exercise class "Dance Away Diabetes," community walks and track meets, bowling events, golfing and swimming. Since inception the Yakama IHS Healthy Heart Program has excelled and exceeded participant recruitment and retention goals.

Innovation Award:

Fond du Lac Human Services (FDLHS) Diabetes Prevention Program
Cloquet, Minnesota

The FDLHS Diabetes Prevention Program developed and implemented a "Word of Mouth" community-wide advertising campaign about diabetes prevention this past year. The campaign included a community competition. In order to enter, each person would have to have a blood glucose screening. During the four-month competition, word spread. In all, 491 community members were screened; 51 members were diagnosed with prediabetes and eight were diagnosed with diabetes. The winner was a community member whose father is experiencing diabetes complications and had wanted his adult son to be tested. The son stated the contest motivated him to finally get tested for diabetes and prediabetes.

Norton Sound Health Corporation CAMP Department
Nome, Alaska

The Norton Sound Health Corporation CAMP Department implements the Summercise program, an innovative diabetes prevention program for the youth of Nome. The summer program provides physical activity opportunities and nutrition/cooking classes. This program incorporates traditional activities to encourage the cultural aspects of a healthy lifestyle that is grounded in the Alaska Native culture. Findings from the program suggest that Summercise affects youth of the community in a positive way and provides opportunities that would not otherwise be available to them. It has shown to make an impact on the youth's knowledge, skill level, and attitude of healthy eating and physical activity.

Honorable Mention:

  • Innovation Honorable Mention: Toiyabe Indian Health Project, Bishop, California
  • Outcomes Honorable Mention: Warm Springs Diabetes Prevention Program, Warm Springs, Oregon