Reporter Steve Norman of Voice of America Interviews Project HOPE Diabetes Specialist Charlotte Block on "Diabetes in the Developing World and Efforts by Project HOPE To Combat This Deadly Epidemic." Interview Aired on November 14, 2011, World Diabetes Day.
Excerpts from a Voice of America Interview broadcast on November 14, 2011.
STEVE NORMAN: I'm Steve Norman, VOA News, in Washington. The International Diabetes Federation issued its fifth edition of a diabetes atlas on Monday indicating the number of people living with diabetes is expected to rise from 366 million in 2011 to 552 million by the year 2030 if no urgent action is taken. Some of the highest numbers of people suffering from the disease is in South and East Asia. There's an estimated 92 million adults with diabetes in China and another 148 million are in the pre-diabetes stages. In India, 5O million people are struggling with the disease. I spoke with diabetes expert, Charlotte Block, with Project HOPE which operates diabetes education programs worldwide and asked her if it's difficult to treat diabetes in India and China where the numbers are so large. She told me it can be a challenge.
CHARLOTTE BLOCK: First off, there's educating the medical health professionals so they know how to do patient education and what sort of decision tree to use. But then if a patient does require oral medications or insulin, there may or may not be an issue of supply and cost as well.
STEVE NORMAN: Let's talk about China where many of our listeners are and people who read our website. I know you have a number of projects going on there, tell us about that.
CHARLOTTE BLOCK: Sure. Actually China is where we've had the longest history doing diabetes projects in our global programs. We've been there for over a decade and our program there first started out concentrating on education of medical professionals like doctors in urban health centers and hospitals. And then, as the program has progressed we've worked down and out basically -- more into allied health professionals and more rural clinics using the train-the-trainer model so people are trained to then also train their colleagues and other allied health professionals as well.
STEVE NORMAN: I read with great interest your blog -- everyone has a blog today and I'm very glad that you have one. Many of them I find uninteresting but this one particularly caught my attention about India lighting the way on diabetes day. There are a lot of people in India -- Project HOPE says about 50 million people there are struggling with diabetes and you talked about it in your blog. Tell us about India specifically.
CHARLOTTE BLOCK: India is a very complicated place. It's very rural and it's also very urban and that's actually one of the driving factors for diabetes -- it's this switch from rural to urban centers, shifts in lifestyle whether it be physical activity or diet. India has a very large population. They have the second largest number of people with diabetes, it's estimated China being the first. India has a lot of health issues to deal with because they have such a diverse country as far as the challenges they face with healthcare. We have our India Diabetes Educator Project which is educating allied health professionals like dieticians, nurses, physical therapists to be diabetes educators which is a somewhat new profession in their healthcare model and so those people are trained specifically on how to educate patients and teach them self-management skills as well because ultimately a lot of managing diabetes is with the individual.
STEVE NORMAN: In many conversations I've had over the years with health professionals, we've spoken about non-communicable diseases -- certainly cardiovascular disease and cancer come to mind almost immediately and sometimes we think about respiratory disease. I was surprised, in your blog, that diabetes is mentioned there. Is it really in the category that those other three are?
CHARLOTTE BLOCK: Yes, possibly in sheer numbers. You know when you see a pie chart and the percentage of non-communicable diseases that are affecting developing countries, diabetes tend to have a smaller slice. However, WHO has chosen to focus on four main non-communicable diseases and those are the four, the four you listed. And they've also chosen to focus on four main risk factors that those four NCDs share which are alcohol, tobacco, diet and inactivity and so diabetes does fall in that four by four framework they're using.
STEVE NORMAN: Charlotte Block is a diabetes specialist and registered dietician with Project HOPE. For more on their efforts to help people with diabetes, go to www.projecthope.org. I'm Steve Norman, VOA News in Washington.
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