Since 1975, Maniilaq Association has been the primary provider of health and social services to the Inupiat residents of Alaska’s Northwest Arctic. Communities served include Ambler, Buckland, Deering, Kiana, Kivalina, Kobuk, Kotzebue, Noorvik, Noatak, Selawik, and Shungnak in the Northwest Arctic Borough and the village of Point Hope in the North Slope Borough. In total, Maniilaq Association serves some 7,747 Alaska Native residents living in this region. Maniilaq Association facilities include eleven village clinics, a regional family crisis center for adult victims of sexual and domestic violence, an emergency shelter for abused children, and a modern 17 bed health center (which houses the Maniilaq Diabetes Program).
Though an active lifestyle and a diet consisting primarily of traditionally harvested foods once contributed to a low rate of diabetes in the Northwest Arctic, the disease has become more prevalent as people have become less physically active. In addition, the availability of processed foods high in fat and refined sugar have contributed to an increase in the rate of diabetes and related pathologies including obesity, hypertension and Gestational Diabetes. Increasingly, these conditions are affecting younger and younger people. Even in cases where diabetes is clearly diagnosed, patients are often in denial about the condition and its seriousness. This culture of denial, along with a general lack of familiarity with the disease, also likely make diabetes underreported in this region.
With funds from the FY 2023 Special Diabetes Program for Indians grant, Maniilaq Association will continue making the services provided by the Diabetes Program available to this region’s residents. These services include specialized education and care for residents of the region who are at risk of or who have been diagnosed with diabetes. This program promotes both primary prevention (stopping the onset of diabetes) and secondary prevention (stopping complications after diabetes occurs) by conducting outreach and education events in village schools and community venues with groups of all ages. In addition, Diabetes Program staff visit all villages on a periodic basis to make home visits, conduct diagnostic and care clinics, and gather data concerning the prevalence of diabetes in the region. Finally, the program employs both a Clinical Pharmacist and Registered Dietitian who see patients on a referral basis to promote optimal medication and dietary therapies.
The objective of this project supports the goals established under the Special Diabetes Program for Indians. Activities outlined in this proposal will be aimed at reducing the risk of diabetes in at-risk individuals, providing high quality care to those with diagnosed diabetes, and/or reducing the complications of diabetes.