(West New York, NJ) -- A new statewide initiative to raise awareness of diabetes in New Jersey’s Latino community was announced today at the North Hudson Community Action Center by a partnership of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey, the Latino Leadership Alliance of NJ, and the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services. This initiative was designed to address the growing issue of diabetes in the Latino Community and is the first of its kind in the State. The Initiative will include a Latino Diabetes Summit: “Diabetes Care: Prevention and Treatment in New Jersey’s Latino Community,” which will be held at Rutgers on March 19, 2008.
“The growing presence of Latinos in New Jersey, combined with the Latino community’s lack of access to quality healthcare information and services, will have profound implications for the future of the healthcare delivery system in our state, if not properly addressed,” said Hon. Bob Franks, President of the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey. “It is therefore vital to properly and swiftly address the needs of this growing community – and the challenges that diabetes presents - to avert long-term problems in New Jersey’s health care system,” he continued.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing health issues facing the state. Research of the healthcare needs of the Latino community indicates that a startling two million (or approximately 10.2% of all Latinos in the United States aged 20 years or older) already have diabetes. Latinos are two times more likely to contract diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. In 2001, the death rate from diabetes for Latinos was 40 percent higher than the death rate of whites, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“Diabetes is becoming an increasingly serious health condition,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Heather Howard, J.D. “The burden of diabetes in New Jersey’s Latino community is unique because of its alarming prevalence and early onset. These factors are compounded by powerful social challenges such as language barriers, and decreased access to health insurance and health services.
“The first state Latino Summit on Diabetes is a historic accomplishment that will raise awareness and create preventive, culturally sensitive actions in reversing this trend. It fortifies the Department’s commitment to adopt all possible ways of better managing the disease and its very serious complications,” added Commissioner Howard.
A campaign to educate and disseminate information about the growing presence of diabetes, specific to New Jersey’s Latino Community, has just been initiated. The campaign will commence with a Latino Diabetes Summit to be held in March 2008 and will include an extensive public education and outreach effort extending beyond the summit. To date, two health screenings have been held: one in New Brunswick at the Eric B. Chandler Health Center and one at the North Hudson Community Action Health Center.
“New Jersey’s Latino community is particularly threatened by the specter of diabetes. This disease impacts not only individual members of our community, but their families as well. Hopefully, this initiative is the beginning of a collaboration that will result in post summit strategies to raise awareness in the Latino Community on the symptoms and treatment of diabetes. We expect that a long term collaboration with our partners will bring the necessary focus and resources to this critical health issue,” said Martin Perez, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, diabetes is the sixth primary cause of death among Latinos and the fourth principal cause of death in women and Latino senior citizens. Diabetes also has an earlier onset in Latinos than in other populations. Among Puerto Ricans and Mexican Americans, for instance, the age onset is 30-50 years old. Latinos are more likely than whites and blacks with diabetes to suffer long-term complications from the disease.
For more information on the Latino Diabetes Initiative and Summit, visit www.hinj.org or www.umdnj.edu/latinodiabetes