WASHINGTON ― U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representatives Steve Pearce, Ben Ray Luján and Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Jan. 22 that several New Mexico Tribes are receiving a total of $12.6 million over five years for diabetes prevention and treatment programs.
Tribes receiving funding include the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the Pueblos of Jemez, Taos, Zia, Zuni and Santa Ana, as well as the Indian Health Service Albuquerque Area. The grants are part of the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which supports community-directed efforts to enhance diabetes treatment and prevention programs.
Funding is expected to help continue existing programs, including nutrition and physical activity counseling, weight management, and other training. Diabetes rates are 2.3 times higher among Native adults compared to non-Hispanic whites. Among youth, the rates are even more concerning: Native youth between the ages of 10 and 19 are nine times more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
“Fighting the diabetes epidemic in our Tribal communities starts on the ground, and these grants to Tribes across New Mexico will support locally driven efforts to combat the disease,” said Udall, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “I’ve supported funding for the Special Diabetes Program for Indians, efforts to reduce childhood obesity and many other community public health initiatives as a member of the Appropriations Committee. These programs work, and we need to keep up our life-saving partnerships with Tribal communities.”
“The Special Diabetes Program for Indians is a critical tool in combating the high prevalence of diabetes across Indian Country — and through this funding it will continue to make a significant impact in New Mexico,” Heinrich said.“Prevention and treatment programs, and health education have yielded real results in fighting this disease. We must continue to build on that momentum and ensure Native children and families have the resources they need to stay healthy.”
“Diabetes is one of the greatest health challenges currently facing Native American communities,” Pearce said. “This grant not only provides the much needed care to those currently battling diabetes, but provides tribes with the financial assistance to create preventative measure educational campaigns to combat future generations from becoming diabetic or pre-diabetic. I am proud to have helped secure this assistance for New Mexican tribes.”
“Combating diabetes is an important issue that affects so many of our friends, family, and neighbors — including many in New Mexico’s Native American communities,” said Luján, a member of the Congressional Diabetes Caucus. “I have continued to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to make funding for the National Diabetes Prevention Programs a priority. Essential programs, like SDPI, touch the lives of tribal members living with diabetes and offer the support and guidance that is critical to helping those at risk take steps to prevent the disease.”
“I’ve spent most of my career ensuring that services get into rural, isolated Native American communities,” Lujan Grisham said. “As a former Health Secretary, I took on diabetes on several fronts, including banning junk food in schools. This federal funding for prevention and treatment programs will make a major difference in our fight against this epidemic in tribal communities.”
A breakdown of SDPI funding follows. Award amounts are for 2016, and each grant is expected to be renewed at the same funding level each year through 2020.