$2.6 million to help Appalachian communities fight type 2 diabetes

Special to HNN Provided by Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has awarded $2.6 million to Marshall University’s Center for Rural Health to help diabetes coalitions in 10 Appalachian communities implement effective local solutions to the widespread problem of diabetes.

The coalitions are part of Marshall’s Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project, which since 2000 has created 66 such coalitions in nine states through funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Patricia Doykos, director of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, announced the five-year grant today at the Appalachian Regional Commission annual conference in Prestonsburg, Ky. The grant is part of the foundation’s “Together on Diabetes” program, which supports efforts to develop and expand effective patient self-management programs and to draw whole communities into the fight against type 2 diabetes.

“Type 2 diabetes is one of the United States’ greatest health challenges and disproportionately affects the poor, minorities and the elderly,” said Lamberto Andreotti, chief executive officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb. “ ‘Together on Diabetes’ draws on the strengths of communities and supports public- and private-sector partners coming together to identify and implement disease management approaches that work for large segments of the population.”

Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp was pleased with the announcement of the grant.

“Study after study has shown that we have an alarming situation with type 2 diabetes in the areas served by the Marshall University Center for Rural Health,” he said. “The awarding of this five-year grant will allow us to continue to work toward effective solutions to our region’s unique challenges. We appreciate the vision, collaboration and generosity of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation in assisting us in our work to alleviate a pressing medical need.”

Appalachia has a higher rate of diabetes than the nation as a whole, and the problem is especially acute in the rural Appalachian counties classified as “distressed.” A recent study showed the rate of diabetes there was more than 1.6 times the national average.

“Diabetes is such a big problem in distressed Appalachian counties in part because lifestyles have changed over the last 20 years,” said Richard Crespo of Marshall, who is the project coordinator. “People have become more sedentary, leading to obesity, which is a major risk factor for diabetes. Thus the solution is in the community, not the doctor’s office.”

The grant will provide support for coalitions in 10 distressed counties, helping them to implement evidence-based programs that promote long-term behavior change and improve the health of people who have type 2 diabetes.

The CDC and ARC will provide training, and Marshall will guide the 10 diabetes coalitions through a planning process, equip them with evidence-based programs, and provide ongoing technical assistance. Marshall also will evaluate the program, looking at the coalitions themselves, changes in their communities, and improvements in patients’ diabetes health.