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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Diabetes education and outreach gets boost in Southern New Mexico

New Mexico State University's Southern Area Health Education Center (SoAHEC) will use a $300,000 grant from Hidalgo Medical Services (HMS) to assist with diabetes education and outreach in New Mexico's Hidalgo and Luna counties.


an outreach office of New Mexico State's Health Science Department, will receive about $100,000 a year for three years to develop Diabetes Resource Centers in Lordsburg and Deming.

"La VIDA - Lifestyles and Values Impacting Diabetes Awareness" is a two-county coalition working toward educating communities on all aspects of diabetes, said Daryl Smith, program coordinator for SoAHEC.

"Diabetes has been identified as one of the most prominent health problems along the border," Smith said. "It is estimated that one out of every three people with the disease do not know they have diabetes."

According to the New Mexico Department of Health, more than 120,000 New Mexicans have diabetes.

"By making people more aware of their own personal risks, hopefully we can prevent many people from developing diabetes in the first place. By educating the residents on the risk factors that contribute to diabetes, this collaborative can help many people prevent or delay the onset of diabetes," Smith said. "This is public health at its finest. You're preventing the problem before it occurs, or in many cases, at least diagnosing the disease early on and managing the symptoms and potential problems before they develop into further complications."

HMS, a community health center covering all of Hidalgo County, applied for a federal grant on behalf of the two counties to address diabetes in the area. Several members of the coalition have diabetes and will be integral in the planning of activities during the next two and a half years, Smith said.

HMS received a one-year planning grant to mobilize the two counties to develop the coalition and plan how to best address diabetes prevention and control in the communities. After the successful planning year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funded the second phase -- implementation of the planned activities.

The CDC contract with HMS led to a subcontract with SoAHEC, one of several partners in this initiative, to develop the resource centers. Hidalgo and Luna counties share similar characteristics, since they are both border communities with large agricultural bases and have similar socio-economic characteristics, Smith said. SoAHEC has worked with both counties in the past on community health issues.

SoAHEC has hired another program coordinator, Benjamin Jacquez, to assist in developing the resource centers and organize training sessions to meet the needs of providers and consumers in Hidalgo and Luna counties.

Smith said a large portion of the effort will include community education to make people aware of the services available to them. SoAHEC will train promotoras -- bilingual community health workers -- to run the centers.

"The coalition hopes the centers will become self-sufficient and autonomous," Smith said.

The center in Lordsburg will be located in the Chamber of Commerce and the Deming center will be in the Literacy Center. Community members will not have to pay for services or information at the centers.

The mission of SoAHEC, which also functions as the Border Health Education and Training Center (BHETC), is to improve health care in the southern 17 counties of New Mexico. SoAHEC/BHETC are funded by the University of New Mexico School of Medicine through New Mexico State's Health Science Department.

For more information, call Smith or Jacquez at (505) 646-3441.

Julie M. Hughes
March 1, 2002