TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA — Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker declared November as “Diabetes Awareness Month” in the Cherokee Nation. Chief Baker, surrounded by the tribe’s top health leaders, signed a proclamation Monday to raise awareness about a leading epidemic affecting Native Americans.
Currently, there are 9,433 active patients listed on the diabetes registry getting treatment from one of Cherokee Nation’s eight health centers or W.W. Hastings Hospital. The tribe also helps another 2,000 who seek treatment at the Claremore Indian Hospital with some program services.
“Diabetes is an epidemic in all of Indian Country, including the Cherokee Nation. We all know someone who has been touched by diabetes, so it affects us all,” Chief Baker said. “The good news is diabetes is preventable. Personal choices to eat healthy and exercise are critical. That’s why the Cherokee Nation provides access to healthy foods and places to exercise, such as the Male Seminary Recreation Center.”
A Cherokee Nation Diabetes Program was started in 2004 to provide diabetic patients with the services, tools and skills they need to control their diabetes and prevent complications. A four-session Cherokee Nation Diabetes Self-Management Education Program was the first tribal program to be accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and is accredited at six Cherokee Nation health care facilities: W.W. Hastings Hospital, Wilma P. Mankiller Health Center in Stilwell, Redbird Smith Health Center in Sallisaw, Sam Hider Health Center in Jay, A-Mo Health Center in Salina and Three Rivers Health Center in Muskogee.
The diabetes program has provided funds for ophthalmologic, podiatric and physical therapy equipment that is used to diagnose and treat patients experiencing complications from the disease. Supplemental funding is also provided to Cherokee Nation health care facilities for the purchase of medication to treat diabetes.