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Diabetes: Confronting Barriers in Care and Treatment in Underserved Communities

Underserved communities are still struggling with prevention and treatment when it comes to Diabetes Mellitus. The ability for adults in particular populations such as Latino's and African Americans, to manage their diagnosis of the disease continues to be a plaque. Research suggests that due to the cost of diabetes management, the burden significantly increases in minority and poverty stricken communities.

Diabetes Mellitus is a disorder of the pancreas characterized by insufficient or absolute lack of insulin production, causing elevated blood sugar levels and resulting in multi-system changes in health status.

Health disparities have existed since the beginning of time. Unfortunately, nothing much has changed. photo: Courtesy of The Everette Collection.

According the American Diabetes Association diabetes disproportionately affects racial/ethnic minority populations. Compared with white adults, the risk of having a diabetes diagnosis is 77% higher among African Americans, 66% higher among Latinos/Hispanics, and 18% higher among Asian Americans.

In 2002, the Institute of Medicine released a report titled, “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care. This report was instrumental in bringing awareness to the need for more education and preventative measures on the frontlines of fighting health disparities. It is important to remember that the primary reservoir of disparities in health disease come from inequalities in care, treatment and access.

The historical and structural disparate in health care practices among minority and underserved adults with diabetes can only be eliminated with deliberate action and torn down barriers of access and racism. Then and only then will we be able to adequately assist in the planning of future interventions and education.

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