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Joslin Physicians Visit Russia for Diabetes Education and Outreach

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Joslin Diabetes Center maintains and pursues the vision of creating “a world free of diabetes and its complications.” With this powerful vision in mind, three Joslin Physicians – Dr. Richard Beaser, Dr. Enrique Caballero and Dr. Osama Hamdy – traveled to Russia last month to provide educational programs and assistance for Russian physicians who are developing diabetes care to meet the specific needs of the Russian population.

This 12 day trip was the third trip that was supported by an educational grant from Novartis Pharmaceuticals. This trip was developed by the Joslin Professional Education Department and coordinated with the Endocrinology Research Center in Moscow, which is led by Prof. Ivan Dedov.  The Joslin Physicians also collaborated closely with the leadership of the diabetes section of the Center,  Prof. Marina Shestakova and Prof. Gagik Galstyan, in developing this educational program.

The first educational program in this series was held in Moscow in May of 2011, which was attended by and provided important educational information to the participating clinicians. Furthermore, this program provided the opportunity to plan additional programs.
The second educational program was held in September of 2012, where the cities of Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and St. Petersburg were visited. Faculty included representatives of Joslin and the Endocrinology Center of Moscow as well as local diabetes experts from each of these locations.  

Last month, Dr. Beaser, Dr. Caballero and Dr. Hamdy traveled back to Russia, this time to the cities of Krasnodar, Yaroslavl, Kazan, and Irkutsk. Again, they were joined by the Moscow Center and local faculty members, which provided the opportunity for them to share their expertise through lectures and case discussions with the local endocrinologists and other physicians.

“The purpose of these trips, and this last one in particular, was to try to give a sense to the Russian physicians of how we practice here, in the United States, and how we can apply some of things we know about diabetes practice to Russia,” said Dr. Beaser.  “We are also hoping to work with our friends at the Endocrinology Center to explore ways that they may collaborate with us, particularly in the development of a weight management program, and possible other diabetes care activities in the future.”

“This third trip sought not only to teach facts, but also to help clinicians improve their care skills,” described Dr. Beaser. 

To do so, the team combined educational lectures presented by both Joslin and Russian faculty with case studies and panel discussions. The lectures presented by  Joslin physicians during these core sessions included Dr. Caballero focusing on the management of type 2 diabetes, Dr. Hamdy discussing weight management and lifestyle topics and Dr. Beaser covering insulin management.

“International education programs such as this are always developed using the same approach that is used in developing programs for the United States,” commented Dr. Beaser.  “We abide by the U.S. standards for pharmaceutical support of education, and develop the content based on clinical evidence and balanced discussions of many treatment options, without influence by the funder.”  

“We were very pleased to receive support for the programs in Russia from Novartis and their willingness to allow the academic independence that we needed,” added Dr. Beaser.

As part of the development of these programs, the Joslin physicians worked with their Russian colleagues to identify the nature and causes of shortfalls of Diabetes care in Russia. These shortfalls are reflected in statistics, in first hand reports by Russian experts and in experiences during the earlier trips to Russia, including the evaluations and feedback from audiences at the previous programs. 

Dr. Beaser stated that part of the diabetes dilemma in Russia is they do not yet possess the capabilities or public health mechanisms to fully determine the percentage of the population that has diabetes.

“A publication from the Endocrinology Center gave statistics that suggested that they are likely underestimating the number of people with type 2 diabetes,” explained Dr. Beaser. “That may mean that they may be missing the diagnosis in possibly as many as 50 percent of the people who actually have type 2 diabetes,” he said.

For these reasons, the results of this program are crucial to helping Russian physicians determine how best to serve and care for their diabetes population, both in early identification of type 2 diabetes and in the timely initiation of treatment for glucose control as well as other related metabolic abnormalities. 

The Joslin physicians will closely follow the educational outcomes of the Russia program, and they hope to develop more programs in the future specifically focusing on care process and patient outcomes. The Joslin team hopes to return to Russia next year if funding can be secured, and provide similar programs to other parts of Russia.

The efforts in Russia mirror concurrent efforts in other areas in need of educational and diabetes care-support need, including India, the Far East, the Middle East and Latin America.

Dr. Beaser, along with the rest of the Joslin team, recognizes the challenge with developing diabetes outreach programs is the significant differences among health care delivery systems in different regions. Thus, in order to fulfill each region’s specific needs, it is necessary that each region be approached with a unique blend of educational perspective and treatment skill training that reflects local care parameters.

“It’s an exciting time [for Joslin], it’s a challenging time for Joslin, but I think we really have a lot we can offer when partnering with local experts,” said Dr. Beaser. “We are hoping to grow this as our way of fulfilling the Joslin mission in years and decades to come.”

Page last updated: November 23, 2014