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Diabetes ambassadors hitting the streets of Western New York

National Public Radio

With diabetes becoming an increasing problem, a local expert on the health problem is suggesting a different way to help treat diabetics.

Dr. Paresh Dandona says around 10 percent of Americans - all races, both sexes - are diabetic and that percentage is increasing. The Seneca Nation, for example, has around one-third of its enrolled membership dealing with the problem.

The SUNY distinguished professor and head of endocrinology says his Erie County Medical Center is spreading the word of the need for treatment using trained Certified Diabetes Educators, not regular medical personnel.

"What I have done is to create a class of these CDEs called ambassadors, who are trained and sent out into the community with the support of the insurance company to treat diabetes at the primary care level," says Dandona. "This is a model I'm hoping will be adopted by, well, not only the State of New York, but hopefully the nation."

Credit University at Buffalo
Dr. Paresh Dandona

They go out in the community to persuade people to be tested and treated if diabetes shows up, as more cases are on the way.

"After 2001, every one in three Caucasians will become diabetic, everyone born after that date," he says, "and every one in two of African Americans and Hispanics will become diabetic."

Dandona says the big increase is in Type 2 diabetes, which is heavily blamed on age and obesity. Diabetes often also goes undiagnosed because people - especially men - don't get routine blood sugar level tests, which can spot a possible problem. Dandona says the good news is that there is an array of new medications to treat Type 2, beyond the usual use of metformin.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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