HHS Issues $139M in Funding to Support Chronic Disease Prevention

This investment by the HHS will support access to chronic disease prevention and management among American Indian and Alaska Native communities to reduce racial disparities in diabetes burden.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Indian Health Service (IHS), has awarded $139 million in grant funding to address diabetes disparities through chronic disease prevention and management.

Native Americans are generally at a higher risk for diabetes than any other racial group in the United States. According to CDC data, Native American patients are twice as likely as White patients to have diabetes. Additionally, in some American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities, diabetes prevalence among adults can be up to 60 percent.

“IHS is committed to continuing its support for diabetes prevention and treatment for IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health programs,” said Roselyn Ts, IHS Director, said in the press release. “Since its inception in 1997, the Special Diabetes Program for Indians has helped to dramatically increase access to important diabetes prevention and treatment services throughout Indian Country.”

The funding will be distributed to 302 tribal, urban, and IHS sites across 35 states under a 5-year grant cycle. The HHS also mentioned that 11 new organizations and tribes would be included in the grant.

“HHS is committed to eliminating health disparities in communities across the country,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “AI/AN communities have historically had disproportionately higher rates of diabetes than other populations. Through education and outreach programs like the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, we are successfully implementing evidence-based and community-driven strategies to prevent and treat diabetes in tribal and urban Indian communities.”

The Special Diabetes Program for Indians has a long history.

To address the diabetes epidemic among AI/AN people, Congress established the Special Diabetes Program for Indians in 1997, focusing on population health and team-based approaches to diabetes and kidney care.

Specifically, the Special Diabetes Program uses evidence-based and community-driven strategies within its diabetes prevention and management tactics to erase diabetes disparities AI/AN patients.

Since the establishment of the program, diabetes-related kidney failure has decreased by nearly 50 percent. Compared to reports from the 1980s and 1990s, the prevalence of diabetic eye disease among AI/AN communities also fell by 50 percent.

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