For almost 15 years, the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project (NNSDP) has provided prevention education to reduce new cases of diabetes among the Navajo people.
Betti Delrow, acting program manager III with NNSDP, said her organization's additional objectives are to identify individuals who are in a pre-diabetes stage to reduce new developments and also provide diabetes management to reduce complications and disabilities.
"We do this through healthy lifestyle promotions and improvements in nutrition, diet, and exercise," said Delrow. "There are eight service areas throughout the reservation that provide these services, as well as three Wellness Centers in Window Rock, Dilkon, and Hardrock."
The central administration office for NNSDP is in Window Rock. Service areas include Tuba City, Kayenta, Window Rock, Dilkon, Shiprock, Chinle, Crownpoint, Fort Defiance, and Gallup, N.M.
"Current events we plan and participate in are specific to each service area, all information is online," Delrow said. "We do walks, health fairs, visits, runs, consultations, and more."
According to Delrow, NNSDP was the primary organization to help with Navajo Nation Vice President Rex Lee Jim's running initiative. More than 1,700 people participated in an October run, covering more than 400 miles. Last year runners ran east to west across reservation lands. This year the direction changed to start runners in the south and have them head north. Next year run organizers plan to have the route travel from the west to the east.
NNSDP partnered with the American Diabetes Association, ConocoPhillips, and Navajo Pride for the Tour the Cure bike ride on Sept. 15 as well. Delrow said officials from NNSDP plan to have another bike ride next year, hopefully making it an annual event.
"We're waiting until January to see if we'll be affected by the fiscal cliff, our funding source is from IHS (Indian Health Services)," said Delrow, adding that the NNSDP is 100 percent federally funded.
The Tuba City Regional Medical Center has estimated that at least 41 percent of the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic. Delrow is not alone when she says she hopes federal money will continue to help keep the NNSDP going.
The NNSDP Wellness Centers are open to the public and free of charge.
Some of the Wellness Centers' exercise and workout classes include indoor cycling, aerobics, kickboxing, Zumba dancing, cross training, core training, yoga, maximum-output-cross training, resist a ball/band and body bar. Exercise equipment includes treadmills, cross trainers, steppers, bikes, upper-body cycles, upper body/back/leg out machines, upper-body weight machines and back-weight machines. Free weights include squat rack, smith machine and cable station.
NNSDP was established in June 1999 after public hearings conducted across the Navajo Nation to hear comments from the community and health service providers on how to use federal diabetes money.
This was accomplished through the formation of a Navajo Area Diabetes Planning Group consisting of representations from the Navajo Nation Division of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Services health professionals to determine distribution, methodology and grant recipients.
More information including service areas and Wellness Center locations, is available online at www.nnsdp.org.