It’s Not Too Late to Promote World Diabetes Day Efforts to Protect our Future

(Note: This guest blog post was written by Andrea Doughty, Louisville Metro Department of Health & Wellness and Co-chair of the Louisville Health Advisory Board Diabetes Committee)

This November we ‘celebrated’ World Diabetes Day (WDD). Led by the International Diabetes Federation, WDD unites the global diabetes community to produce a powerful voice for diabetes advocacy, and awareness to the impact that diabetes has on individuals, our communities and our world.

In Kentucky, 1 in 8 Kentuckians have diabetes, 27.8% are presently undiagnosed, and don’t know they have diabetes.* Even more worrisome, 1 in 3 Kentuckians have pre-diabetes, a reversible cardio metabolic risk factor in which plasma glucose levels are above normal but not high enough to diagnose type 2 diabetes.   With pre-diabetes alone, a person has a 3-5 times higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes* as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and death. Of the 1 in 3 estimated to have pre-diabetes in our state, 9 of 10 don’t know they have it.*

These statistics are staggering and highlight the need for better understanding of the risk of diabetes, as well as systems that connect those at risk to sufficient, preventative, and supportive care.

With this in mind, a group of local organizations, including the YMCA, Metro United Way, the Kentuckiana Health Collaborative, Norton’s Office of Church and Health Ministries, KIPDA, and Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness, connected with a state wide initiative led by the Kentucky Diabetes Network. This group met to plan and coordinate Diabetes awareness day activities in the KIPDA region. The group focused its planning on an awareness campaign to bring diabetes risk screening to where people live work, pray and play in the KIPDA region, so that all people have the opportunity to know their risk, and more importantly, know how to connect to evidence based interventions for diabetes and prediabetes.

In the KIPDA region, we are lucky to have several providers using evidence based interventions for diabetes, and the screening campaign hopes to raise awareness of these services. Diabetes education is a collaborative process through which people with, or at risk for, diabetes gain the knowledge and skills needed to modify behavior and successfully self-manage the disease and its related conditions. Skill building is accomplished through multiple sessions that can be delivered where people live and work.

With this in mind, the following ASK drove the group’s efforts;

A Spread Awareness of the Risk factors of Diabetes. Encourage people to know their numbers and risk factors. Plan an event, bring in a speaker, and distribute materials to inform your sphere of influence on the risk of diabetes.

S Screening– Use the diabetes risk test to help individuals assess their risk for Diabetes.

K Key Follow-up- Call Metro United Way 211 or one of the provider partners to learn more about local programs and services that can help prevent and manage diabetes.

In addition to marketing and distributing an evidence-based toolkit for diabetes risk screening, the group worked to develop a pipeline to shepherd people through risk awareness to connection to evidence based support and diabetes care. Though knowledge is the first step, the ultimate goal of the campaign is to inspire people to take action once they know their risk of diabetes or get the support they need if they are already dealing with the disease.  The screening campaign will continue through the first of the year, and the diabetes risk screening is currently available in print copy, online at  GoHealthShare.com, and through text by texting ‘myrisk’ to 898-211. Once completed, these screening tools direct users to Metro United way’s 211 information line, where operators are then equipped to make referrals to our various local providers of Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support and the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

We are approaching our goal of 10,000 local distributions of the Diabetes risk test, but it is not too late to involve your group in this initiative. If you would like to partner with us to make your communities of influence healthier, contact Andrea Doughty, Andrea.Doughty@louisvilleky.gov, Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness for more information on how you can bring better awareness of diabetes risk to your group.

* Referenced from 2017 KY Diabetes Report