Researchers feature successful diabetes interventions in drive to end global health disparities

By Jill Pease

Dr. Shivani Agarwal and Dr. Ashby Walker
Dr. Ashby Walker (right) with co-author, Dr. Shivani Agarwal of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center, after presenting at a Lancet symposium held this week at the American Diabetes Association’s 83rd Scientific Sessions.

Worldwide rates of diabetes are expected to nearly triple over the next two decades to an estimated 1.3 billion people with the condition by 2050.

To address the rapidly expanding disease crisis, a group of experts led by Ashby Walker, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of health services research, management and policy at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions, part of UF Health, have authored an article that highlights several international diabetes programs that combat well-documented health disparities in diabetes and lead to positive health outcomes for people living with the disease.

The article is part of a special three-part series on global inequity in diabetes care published June 23 in the journal The Lancet.

The article by Walker and colleagues notes that approximately three-quarters of people with diabetes live in low- or middle-income countries and they experience a large discrepancy in healthy life-years lost to diabetes, compared with people with diabetes in high-income countries.

The authors argue that to address diabetes disparities, interventions need to recognize individual patients within a broader social context that considers factors at multiple levels, including the clinical practice environment and health insurance coverage, as well as broader societal issues, such as stigma related to the disease.

Their article features seven diabetes care programs across four continents that have targeted aspects of social context related to root causes of inequity, said Walker, the chair of the American Diabetes Association’s National Health Disparities Committee and the director for health equity initiatives at the UF Diabetes Institute, also part of UF Health.

“The programs also share a common theme of having stakeholder-driven initiatives,” Walker said, “they rely on multisector collaboration and many target policy-level change as part of their aims.”

Read the full story at UF Health News.