Latino Diabetes Initiative Broadens Its Community
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Odds are even that a Latino child born in this country will develop diabetes during his or her lifetime. More than a tenth of all Latinos in the U.S. have diabetes today, and the rate rises to a quarter for those aged 50 or older. This is the huge challenge facing Joslin’s Latino Diabetes Initiative (LDI), a comprehensive effort to improve the lives of Latinos with diabetes and their families—combining clinical care, patient education, community outreach, research and healthcare team education.
Last week, LDI brought more than 100 people in government, healthcare and industry to Joslin to present the vision for the program’s next stage: an ambitious expansion of its community outreach activities.
“It will take time and a sustained effort to develop and implement community-based strategies that address barriers to optimal diabetes care and prevention in the Latino population,” noted Enrique Caballero, M.D., Director of LDI. “We at Joslin are looking to partner with people and groups interested in taking on this challenge.”
Dr. Caballero highlighted several existing collaborations, one being the Esto es Mejor (“This is Better”) research project with Dr. Dharma Cortes of the University of Massachusetts in Boston. The project aims at influencing food-buying behavior and enhancing healthy nutrition among low-income Latino families through home visits, supermarket tours, the Rosa’s Story diabetes-management material created by LDI, and a particularly active role for children in those households. Esto es Mejor is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Salud America program.
Another effort, carried out with Boston’s South End Community Health Center, is looking at the potential to improve diabetes management among Latino patients with type 2 diabetes. Supported by Bayer Health Care, the project is investigating the results of adding at-home testing of patient’s AIC levels (a measurement that reflects average blood glucose levels for the past two or three months) and enhancing regular communication between patients and providers.
Additionally, Joslin Trustee Morella Mendoza de Grossman presented a joint venture with Children’s Hospital of Caracas, Venezuela, which gives underserved children in that city access to critical diabetes eye exams via telemedicine based on the Joslin Vision Network (JVN). The medical work is led by JVN pioneer Dr. Lloyd M. Aiello, of Joslin’s Beetham Eye Institute.
“The Latino Diabetes Initiative efforts nicely extend throughout all divisions at Joslin, and we hope to continue to have a significant impact in the lives of many Latinos throughout the country and internationally,” said Dr. Caballero. “Our strategies may also prove to benefit other vulnerable populations at high risk for diabetes and its complications.”
At the LDI event: Joslin Chairman John Brooks, LDI Director Enrique Caballero, Massachusetts Public Health Commissioner John Auerbach and Cheryl Bartlett, Director of the Division of Prevention and Wellness at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.