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Puerto Rico Diabetes Association (Asociación Puertorriqueña de Diabetes) Puerto Rico Diabetes Association: Reaching new heights in diabetes awareness campaigns

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Link to top of page Introduction

Since 1988 the Puerto Rico Diabetes Association* (APD), has been developing new methods of creating awareness on how to prevent and control diabetes, improve the well being of patients who suffer from it, and serve as support to their families. Today, the APD celebrates the satisfaction of fulfilling its mission during the past 18 years, and continues to fight against the third-leading cause of death in Puerto Rico by offering support and direction to people at high risk or those who have already been diagnosed with diabetes.

In 2003, the International Diabetes Federation* reported a dramatic increase in the incidence of diabetes in Puerto Rico during the last 10 to 12 years. Affected by this disease throughout the Island were approximately 560,000 people, including 75,000 children and adolescents who represent 15 percent of this total. At a worldwide level, Puerto Rico occupied an alarming ninth place. In recent years, Type 2 cases have increased dramatically due to poor eating habits and lack of physical activity.

With many family members who have diabetes, including her late father, Elba Blanes, executive director, understood what the illness meant and was well aware of the problems and the magnitude of the complications of the disease. Hence, through direct bonding with professional peers, programs and projects were developed that not only increased diabetes awareness on the Island, but also brought in additional funding to the organization.

Link to top of page Challenges

Many people go through their daily routines without acknowledging or even showing concern about their health or nutritional well being. These same people may be unaware of the causes of diabetes and its symptoms, and many believe that this condition is only prevalent in the elderly. APD wanted to help Puerto Ricans become more aware of this dangerous disease that affects so many by creating innovative programs to educate the Puerto Rican population on diabetes and provide preventive measures that would reduce the number of new cases of diabetes. In the beginning it was difficult for APD to obtain grants and other public funding, and there was little or no budget to carry out its purpose and plans to

  • Develop programs and activities to promote among patients and the general public a greater understanding of the illness and types of treatments that are available.
  • Promote the interchange of knowledge about diabetes mellitus among doctors and healthcare professionals, with the objective of improving the quality of treatment.
  • Promote, support and disclose scientific investigations related to diabetes mellitus.
  • Establish a service program aimed at improving the physical and emotional quality of life of patients with diabetes, their families and the community.

Link to top of page Solutions

To serve the needs of the community, the APD designed and coordinated the Diabetes Prevention and Control Fair with the help of healthcare providers, organizations and other community members serving as volunteers. This fair has since been held in Ponce, Mayagüez, and San Juan. Health screenings and exhibition booths are available for patients to identify services and products for diabetes control, and educational talks. Diabetes resource guides are handed out to participants along with other NDEP resources to encourage attendants to become more mindful of their health.

Link to top of page Outcomes

The results of having a Diabetes Prevention and Control Fair impacted APD’s audience greatly. Because of this annual fair, the number of people interested in diabetes education and control grew. Over time the number of attendees at the Diabetes Prevention and Control Fair held in San Juan has more than doubled. Because of the large numbers of participants, instead of the annual fair, in 2005, the APD held the Diabetes EXPO in a large facility to accommodate over 5,000 attendees (double the attendance previous years). Also, because of the popularity of the Fair, a one-day Continuing Medical Education Program has been included to meet the needs of primary physicians and other healthcare professionals who work with patients with diabetes. The program speakers were brought in from the States. Additionally, a kitchen was set up to demonstrate ways to prepare healthy meals without having to go over budget.

For more information, contact Elba Blanes, Executive Director, Puerto Rico Diabetes Association at (787) 2821-0617 or 1-800-281-0617, by e-mail or by fax: (787) 281-7178. Send a written request to Asociación Puertorriqueña de Diabetes, Attention: Elba Blanes, PR Box 190842, San Juan, PR 00919-0842

Link to top of page Suggested Materials and Staffing

Would you like to develop an intervention activity in your community? See below for suggested “how to” instructions

  • NDEP sample media products (i.e., press releases, public service announcements, newsletter articles)
  • Print budget – consider asking a local printing company to sponsor your organization. They may print materials for free or a reduced rate.
  • Trained staff and volunteers to help with information dissemination and program development
  • List of community health centers, hospital, and clinics to provide proper information and screenings
  • Private public partners (local clinics, health department, corporations)
  • A local public venue to hold the fair
  • Local media
  • Time Required: 6–12 months of planning

Link to top of page General Instructions

  • Prepare a short proposal of your ideas (what you want, who to invite, where to hold the fair). Use the NDEP Web site for assistance with resources and media.
  • Using your proposal, get permission from upper management of your organization.
  • Assemble a planning committee representing members of the community.
  • Hold ongoing meetings with your committee.

Link to top of page Do your homework

  • Has this been done before? Is there a justified need to improve what has been done before? How can we improve or expand what has already taken place?
  • Who is your target audience? What is the best way to market this event to them?

Link to top of page Follow-up

  • Be sure to have evaluation forms for participants and planners to complete.
  • Ask providers to keep track of the number of participants screened and sent for follow-up.

* Links to non-Federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. Links do not constitute an endorsement of any organization by CDC or the Federal Government, and none should be inferred. The CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at this link.


Page last reviewed: September 5, 2007
Page last modified: November 9, 2007

Content Source: National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
Division of Diabetes Translation

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