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Cherokee Nation Sponsoring Community Events for Diabetes Month
The Cherokee Nation is joining with the American Diabetes Association in sponsoring several events throughout the month of November in recognition of American Diabetes Month, including a health fair, community walks, traditional Native games and more.
“Diabetes is a disease that affects not just and individual but the family unit, and Native Americans are at high risk for the development of the disease,” said Chad Smith, principal chief of the Cherokee Nation. “A part of our overall mission is to help our citizens be healthy and happy. We hope that by teaching our people about prevention and management of diabetes we can have healthier families across the Cherokee Nation.”
Several activities are planned throughout the month, including community walks in Pryor, Claremore and Muskogee, and a community walk, health fair and traditional native games in Tahlequah. The community walk in Pryor will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 9, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Pryor Recreation Center. The walks in Claremore and Muskogee will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 9:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. at Claremore Indian Health Services Hospital in Claremore and at noon at the Cherokee Nation Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee. In Tahlequah, the tribe is hosting a health fair at W.W. Hastings Hospital from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16, traditional native games on Friday, Nov. 19, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cherokee Nation Tribal Complex and two community walks on Tuesday, Nov. 30. The first walk will begin at 11 a.m. at the Male Seminary Recreation Center and the second at 2 p.m. at the Tribal Complex.
Diabetes is a disease that affects the body’s ability to convert sugars, starches and other food into energy. It is estimated that more than 23 million Americans are affected by the disease, and that nearly 6 million people are not aware they have it. In the Cherokee Nation, there are nearly 5,000 patients in the tribe’s Diabetes Registry and it is the most diagnosed disease in the Cherokee Nation Health Services system.
Native Americans are at particular risk for diabetes, and in 2009 just over 30 percent of the diagnosis of patients treated at the tribe’s health centers were in relation to the disease. The Cherokee Nation spends an average of $6.5 million annually in the diabetes program which offers a team approach to patient care, including intensive case and care management, podiatry services, primary prevention activities and self-management classes.
“Diabetes affects thousands of our citizens and their families and is even affecting our young Cherokee citizens at an alarming rate,” Smith said. “We want to do what we can to educate our people and encourage them to eat healthy and live an active lifestyle.”
Each year, November is recognized as American Diabetes Month across the United States by the American Diabetes Association. The time is set aside to shine a spotlight on a serious disease that leads to potentially life-threatening complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and amputation. Currently statistics show that 24 million children and adults in the United States live with diabetes, 57 million Americans are at risk for Type 2 diabetes and one out of every three children born today will face a future with diabetes if current trends continue.
For more information on the Cherokee Nation Diabetes Prevention Program, call 918-453-5776.