June 30, 2010

Senate Indian Affairs Committee Examines Need for New Diabetes Treatment and Research

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee conducted a hearing today to highlight the growing crisis of diabetes across the nation, particularly in Indian Country, and examine the need for new treatment and research.
Supporters of an improved federal approach to the country’S diabetes epidemic like 3-time Olympian Swimmer Gary Hall R. and Native American Actor Wes Studio provided testimony at the hearing.
Nationwide more than 24 million people have diabetes, with another 6 million undiagnosed and close to 50 million borderline diabetic. The prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. has increased more than four-fold over the last 30 years. The burden of this disease is even more severe among Native Americans, where the prevalence is double the national average. In fact, in some tribal communities the prevalence of diabetes has reached well over 60%.
“Diabetes has become a nationwide health care crisis, and the crisis has struck particularly hard in our Native American communities,” said Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND). “The outdated and undefended health care system on Indian lands hinders the ability of Native Americans with diabetes to get necessary treatment. We need to improve the diabetes prevention and treatment programs in Indian Country.”
Dorgan has introduced legislation to reauthorize the Special Diabetes Program, a program that provides research funding for type 1 diabetes, and prevention and education programs for Indian tribes. Funding for this program has led to clinical advancements in delaying the full onset of diabetes and reducing the risk of serious complications to diabetics, such as kidney failure and heart attack. The bill currently has 60 co-sponsors.
“I will work for passage of this bill so this important program can continue,” Dorgan said.