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Black publishers push for more diabetes awareness

On a mission to combat health issues related to diabetes, disproportionately endured by Black Americans, the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the largest Black-media resource in the United States, took the lead along with the Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company, on an important conversation surrounding diabetes and its ongoing negative impact on people of color.

An NNPA workshop, African American Health Disparities: Diabetes and the African-American Community on January 24 featured a high-energy panel discussion. Conducted at the organization’s Mid-Winter Conference, medical professionals, journalists, and session attendees vehemently pushed for people of color to actively “get ahead” of the disease.

Bishop Elton Amos, M.D., key panelist and founder of the Church of God in Christ Global Health and Wellness, an organization devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles among minorities, championed the conversation on health and the need for Black Americans to be proactive in maintaining good health.

“We have to get ahead of our health,” Amos said. He noted further, “We have to start utilizing our doctors more, getting tested regularly and working better on balancing and maintaining healthy lifestyles.”

Panelist Tanisha Blake, a Lilly associate brand manager, addressed the inability on the part of many diabetes patients to afford medication. She noted the recent introduction of a Lilly insulin affordability program was designed to decrease medication money worries for patients.

“Eli Lilly wants diabetes patients to know they are not alone. We too are concerned when patients can’t afford needed medications such as insulin. We are committed to working with patients to determine the best way for them to guarantee they will always have access to insulin when they need it.”

Diabetes, along with high blood pressure and obesity, is a dangerous health factor in the Black community.

Diabetes is the condition where the body doesn’t process food for use as energy. The body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. The condition can cause some serious complications, among them heart disease, and kidney failure.

African Americans are almost twice as likely to develop diabetes as whites and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, diabetes in the Black community has quadrupled during the past 30 years.

NNPA panelists cited early awareness as a key component of detecting and bringing the disease under control. People might have SOME or NONE of the following symptoms: frequent urination, excessive thirst, unexplained weight loss and extreme hunger. Patients may also experience sudden vision changes, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, fatigue, and slow healing sores.

Type 2 diabetes, or adult onset diabetes, accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

Nate Miles, VP, Strategic Initiatives for drug manufacturer Eli Lilly, says the recently introduced Diabetes Solution Center, offering insulin affordability assistance to those needing help paying for insulin, is an initiative whose time has come.

“Lilly has a single-minded focus when it comes to paying for insulin,” he says. “We have to exercise all options to ensure patients can afford the medicine they need.”

The company boasts the Solution Center is “a patient-focused help line identifying personalized solutions to assist people who need help paying for insulin.” The help line, (833) 808-1234, is available Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The Lilly representatives say the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center provides many options, some of which are being offered for the first time. Help line services include point of sale savings, immediate need support, and counsel on accessing insulin through free clinics.

Through self-awareness that may lead to an early diabetes diagnosis, Amos noted, “we can lower our risks. We don’t have to live unhealthy lifestyles.”

He encourages the African American community to learn more about its health and to take advantage of programs like the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center to assist in improving health.

Medical professionals on the NNPA discussion panel recommend that in addition to noting symptoms of diabetes, scheduling regular doctor appointments, checking one’s blood pressure regularly, eating healthier diets and increasing consistent exercise are also important in controlling the disease.

W. Larry Williams, CEO of Anchor Ad Group, served as Moderator of the panel discussion and led the advertising campaign that Lilly sponsored in conjunction with the Lilly Solutions Center. Also in attendance was Daniel J. Wahby, Senior Director Of State Government Affairs, Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Company.


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