Nearly 30 million Americans, or 9.3 percent of the population, have type II diabetes. Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of death in Mexico—a country the RGV resembles closely in demographics.
Unfortunately, our community is suffering from an unprecedented diabetes epidemic – one that has touched the lives of almost everyone who lives in and works in the Rio Grande Valley (RGV or the Valley). While we can point to many successes in our individual efforts to prevent diabetes, we have not yet achieved the results we strive for. Today, 16 percent of adults in the RGV report that they have diabetes, and many others go undiagnosed. For instance, a recent study in Cameron County found that 30.7 percent of adults who were screened had diabetes, and approximately half of those individuals were unaware they have the disease.
Recognizing the complexity of the challenge, a group of community leaders came together in the fall of 2014 to form a Steering Committee dedicated to the idea that what we can accomplish together is much greater than the sum of our individual efforts. Our group is comprised of leaders from hospitals, community clinics, foundations, universities, churches and community-based organizations. The effort was launched with support from Methodist Healthcare Ministries, Inc., the Meadows Foundation, and the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute.
The goal of Unidos Contra Diabetes is to reduce the number of new cases of type II diabetes in 5 years, resulting in a 10 percent reduction in the prevalence of diabetes by 2030. We are committed to doing this by integrating primary and behavioral health for people at-risk for diabetes in our community, with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of low-income and underserved populations.