AmeriCares and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation are collaborating on a new program to improve the health of hundreds of adults in northwestern Peru who are at increased risk of diabetes. The project recently began in the rural farming communities of the Piura department with diabetes testing for 730 banana farmers and their families. More than 250 patients were diagnosed with type II diabetes or pre-diabetes and referred to local health care facilities for treatment. Over the next 12 months, these patients will be invited to attend a series of educational workshops to help them learn how changes to their diet and exercise habits can improve their health. The goal is to help about 75 percent of participants adequately control their diabetes in order to prevent serious complications such as kidney failure, vision loss and amputations.
The Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation has awarded an $85,000 grant to fund the year-long project and AmeriCares plans to donate approximately $500,000 worth of diabetes medicines and supplies over the next year to ensure patients receive proper treatment. AmeriCares is working with longstanding partner Volunteers for Inter-American Development Assistance Peru to implement the program in Piura, where a sedentary lifestyle and an increased reliance on packaged snack foods and high-calorie sodas has led to an increased number of obese patients with type II diabetes.
“We targeted Piura because the mobile medical teams we partner with in the region treat an unusually high percentage of diabetic patients,” said AmeriCares SVP of Global Medical Assistance and Emergency Response Katherine Sears. “By identifying high-risk patients, diagnosing them and ensuring they receive proper treatment locally hopefully we can avoid life-threatening medical emergencies and improve patients’ quality of life.”
AmeriCares has been delivering medical aid and humanitarian relief to Peru since 1989 in response to natural disasters and the everyday emergencies in underserved rural communities. To date, the nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization has delivered more than $188 million in aid to Peru, including emergency medical aid for survivors of a deadly 2007 earthquake that destroyed four hospitals and damaged 16 others.