In recognition of National Diabetes Month, members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are collaborating to mitigate the disproportionate impact diabetes has on the Black community.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health found that Black Americans are 60% more likely than white Americans to contract diabetes and are twice as likely than white Americans to die from the disease.
U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, D-OH, told theGrio, that “structural racism” is the reason why Black Americans suffer from diabetes more than any other race.
“Redlining [and] access to health care … are things historically that had a disparate impact on people in the Black community,” she said.
“Systemic and institutional racism and accessibility to affordable health care increases the risk and odds of us suffering from this disease,” she added.
This week, Brown held a press conference at the U.S. Capitol with several CBC members, including Reps. James Clyburn, D-SC., Robin Kelly, D-IL. and fellow Ohio Democrat Joyce Beatty, to discuss why diabetes is so prevalent in the Black community and to share what House Democrats are doing to combat it.
Kelly told reporters on Monday that “Black Americans face significant obstacles to treating and preventing diabetes.”
However, she believes diabetes can be avoided by “increasing access to healthy food, reducing food insecurity and expanding opportunities for nutrition therapy and counseling.”
Brown told reporters, “Diabetes is preventable and manageable in some situations.”
“We need to immediately help those who have not become diabetic, never become diabetic and those who are diabetic [get] access to medication so they can manage their diabetes,” she added.
Kelly told theGrio that many Black Americans are unaware of preventative measures they can take to avoid receiving a diabetes diagnosis.
“I think we have a responsibility to get the word out,” she said.
“We have to share it with trusted messengers because people don’t always look at us like that,” she added. “But we must find other people in the community that will help [our constituents] navigate their healthcare.”
During the press conference, several CBC members emphasized that sometimes it can be costly for Black Americans living with diabetes to receive consistent and proper treatment.
Brown told reporters, “No one should die because we have to ration their insulin.”
“No one should go blind or lose limbs because they cannot afford medication,” she said. “Your life should not be put on hold because we have diabetes.”
The Ohio lawmaker told theGrio that House Democrats are working on legislation that will reduce the cost of insulin and other medications.
“We are tackling not only insulin prices, but negotiating the price of 10 more medications to help reduce the cost of prescription drugs … by the year 2025” she said.
Sykes told theGrio she hopes that House Republicans will partner with Democrats to pass bipartisan legislation that will reduce the financial burden Black Americans face when combatting diseases like diabetes.
“I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will look to put people over politics and decide what is best not only for their constituents but the constituents in the entire country and work alongside with Democrats,” she said.
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