Indian Country receives diabetes grants
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The Bush administration is providing $100 million over the next year to fight the growing epidemic of diabetes in Indian Country.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson announced the grants yesterday. He said the money will fund diabetes prevention, treatment and research for American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are afflicted by the disease at extremely high rates.

"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," he said in a statement.

A first round of $31.5 million in grants is already being awarded to 90 tribes, Indian organizations, Alaska Native corporations and Indian Health Service programs. Three more rounds of $17.2 million, $18.5 million and $31.4 million will be distributed between now and June 2003 to a total of 318 grantees.

"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.

The money comes from the Special Diabetes Program, a Congressionally-funded initiative that was renewed last month. From now until 2008, $750 million will be available to combat diabetes.

Diabetes is a condition that results when the body can't use energy from food properly, resulting in fatigue, increased appetite, nausea, increased thirst and blurred vision. The most common form in Indian Country is called Type 2.

Until the early 1900s, diabetes was almost unheard of among American Indians and Alaska Natives. Diet, exercise and lifestyle is believed by health researchers to have prevented the onslaught seen now, where as many as 50 percent of the adult population of some tribes has the disease.

Native adults today are 2.6 times more likely to have diabetes than whites, according to the IHS.

But it's not just an Indian problem. As the general population has become more sedentary and more dependent on fast foods, diabetes has skyrocketed.

Up until the past decade or so, type 2 diabetes was known only among adults. It is now showing up in Native children at earlier ages, with a CDC study showing that Native children ages 15 to 19 have the highest rate in the country. The prevalence was nearly three times greater than non-Indian youth.

Treating diabetes relies on changing behaviors. Eating well and exercising more can prevent the onset of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, according to health researchers.

If untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputations. It also contributes to high-blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Relevant Documents:
List of Diabetes Program Grantees (IHS December 10, 2002)

Relevant Links:
Diabetes, Yahoo Health -
National Diabetes Program, Indian Health Service -

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