FROM THE ARCHIVE

Congress approves $750M for Indian diabetes

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THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2002

Congressional leaders on Wednesday praised the approval of what they said was a record $750 million in funding to fight the growing epidemic of diabetes in Indian Country.

The House and Senate both authorized a five-year extension to the Special Diabetes Program. The money will go to diabetes prevention, treatment care and research for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

"We cannot lose our focus on the disaster that diabetes is having on our population, particularly the American Indian people. The problem could overwhelm our hospitals and clinics and signal the demise of too many lives,” said Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

The package cleared the House last week and won approval in the Senate yesterday by unanimous consent. Lawmakers said the funding will help tribes meet the health care needs of their members.

"It's a great stride toward improving the health status of Native Americans," said Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Mich.), the co-chairman of the Congressional Native American Caucus, a bipartisan group.

Diabetes afflicts Native Americans at increasingly high rates. Among some tribes, as many as 50 percent of the adult population has the disease, which has no cure.

The majority of cases in Indian Country are of a form called Type 2. It results when the body can't use energy from food properly, resulting in fatigue, increased appetite, nausea, increased thirst and blurred vision.

If untreated, diabetes can lead to blindness, kidney failure and amputations.

Typically, type 2 diabetes was known only among adults. But it is showing up in Native children at earlier ages.

A CDC study showed that Native children ages 15 to 19 have the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the country. The prevalence was nearly three times greater than non-Indian youth.

Diabetes is not just an Indian problem, however. Among the greater population, the CDC has reported a 30 percent increase during an eight-year period in the 1990s. This is tied to a growing number of overweight and obese Americans.

Treating type 2 relies on changing behaviors. Eating well and exercising more can prevent the onset of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.

Get the Bill:
To amend the Public Health Service Act with respect to special diabetes programs for Type I diabetes and Indians (H.R.5738)

Relevant Links:
Diabetes, Yahoo Health - http://health.yahoo.com/health/centers/diabetes
American Diabetes Association - http://www.diabetes.org/main/application/commercewf
Diabetes Prevention Program - http://www.niddk.nih.gov/patient/dpp/dpp-q&a.htm
National Diabetes Program, Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov/MedicalPrograms/Diabetes/index.asp

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