(Washington, D.C.) The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) is pleased by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Tommy G.Thompson's announcement of $100 million in grants to support programs to prevent and treat diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The grants will be funded through HHS' Indian Health Service (IHS) and will go to 318 tribal, urban Indian, Indian organizations and IHS health programs, with a special focus on children and teenagers. Along with prevention and treatment programs, efforts will be made to reduce
cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes.
"It is extremely important to have these programs, as cardiovascular disease is the number one killer among American Indians and Alaska Natives, and diabetes is directly linked to a large number of these tragic deaths," executive director Steve Wilhide said. "By taking a proactive approach through preventative measures, HHS is helping to ensure these populations
have healthier communities, and the NRHA commends their efforts."
Most of the grant-supported programs are aimed at preventing type 2 diabetes among Indian youth ? an area of particular concern for both tribes and rural health providers. Programs will include obesity screening, weight-management programs and school-based physical activity programs. Adult programs will include nutritional counseling, diabetes education and
outreach activities, and community walking programs.
"The variety of the programs is really impressive," Wilhide said. "We hope these measures will help create a safety net and increase awareness to the need for a life-long commitment to healthier lifestyles. By making diabetes prevention and treatment a community effort, the possibility of individual success is greatly increased.
Approximately 17 million Americans are living with diabetes today, and nearly 16 million of these cases are type 2. At least 16 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which raises their risk of getting type 2.
The grants are part of IHS' Special Diabetes Program for Indians, which was created by Congress in 1998 to address the growing numbers of diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives.
The NRHA is a national nonprofit membership organization that provides leadership on rural health issues. The association's mission is to improve the health of rural Americans and to provide leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research.
The NRHA membership is made up of a diverse collection of individuals and organizations.