Sixty-six coalitions from Pennsylvania
to Mississippi make up the Appalachian Diabetes Control and Translation Project
at Marshall University. Each of these coalitions is formed by organizations and
agencies like health departments and sheriff’s offices in each of the 66
counties served by the program. The goal is to affect the prevalence of type 2,
adult on-set diabetes.
Chuck Clements is a Professor of
Clinical Medicine at the Marshall School of Medicine. He said diabetes is a
leading cause of many major health issues.
“Diabetes is one of the leading causes
of blindness, you go down a little further, it’s one of the contributing
factors for heart disease, and it is a major factor for renal failure where
people’s kidneys go bad because of the load of sugar, so I think it affects
everything all the way down to the feet,” Clements said.
The Appalachian Diabetes Control and
Translation Project is a federal, state and community partnership funded by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Appalachian Regional
Commission. The team at the Robert
Center for Rural Health
at Marshall University’s medical school provides
assistance and training for the coalitions.
Dr. Richard Crespo is the Project
Coordinator who makes frequent trips through Appalachia
checking on the different coalitions. Crespo said it’s important each of the coalitions
controls itself so the Project offers help in different areas, like funding and
“Our role is to help the coalition get
started and then support them as they move along supporting people in their counties;
typically the funding we give to the coalitions is a onetime grant of $10,000
to help the coalition’s get started,” Crespo said.
From there Marshall provides support to
help the coalitions survive and get the word out in their counties. Crespo said
it’s hard to measure the program’s effectiveness in places like Mingo County,
for instance, because studies haven’t been done on whether the number of diabetes cases is decreasing. But Crespo
believes the program has made an impact over the years it’s been in place.
Crespo said the next
step is to work with each group on food policies.
“We’re partnering with the Harvard Food
Law and policy group out of the Harvard Law School and helping the coalition’s
learn about what food policy is all about and then develop tools and strategies
to be able to advocate for healthy food policies in their counties,” Crespo
Dr. Chuck Clements said diabetes is and
has become a huge problem that organizations like this help.
“To get this under control you need to
do a couple of things that I think this program will help with, identify the
problem early, because early detection means better outcomes and I think we
need to screen a wide audience because diabetes is one of those diseases that
you don’t know you have until you get tested for it,” Clements said.
The Appalachian Regional Commission and
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have sponsored the project since