The Need for Blood Glucose Monitors and Supplies in Isla Mujeres, Mexico
By Karen F. Rosenberg, LISW
Isla Mujeres is an island off the Yucatan Peninsula in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. It has a population 15,000 people, mostly Mayan in ethnicity. The islanders have many economic and healthcare concerns. One of the main public health concerns in this indigenous population is diabetes.
In Mexico, as in many other low income countries, type 2 diabetes is an increasing public health problem. Diabetes has been estimated in 8.1% of all Mexican adults in 2000, comparable to 5.4.0% in the US. We know that the prevalence of type 2 diabetes is higher in populations of Native American ancestry than in populations of European ancestry. The dominant ethnic population on Isla Mujeres and on the Yucutan peninsula is Mayan, direct decendents of the local indigenous native peoples. One study followed 15,000 children age 12 -18 years old in the state of Quintana Roo (where Isla Mujeres is located) with results showing 8.7% having pre-diabetes and 1% diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes .
In another study done in the Yucatan, there was an epidemiological picture similar to what happens at the national level, with increasing incidence and prevalence of chronic degenerative diseases. The Yucatan has a prevalence of 11.8% diabetes mellitus, hypertension of 32.4% and 29.9% for obesity. 
Dr. Dennis Hernandez, medical director of the Public Health Clinic on Isla Mujeres, was interviewed for this proposal. He said that diabetes is the biggest health concern on the island, with an incidence of 45% of patients who have come to the clinic for health care. Dr. Hernandez feels certain that the actual rate of diabetes on the island is closer to 90% if the statistic were to include islanders who do not come into the clinic. He concurred that there are major risk factors in the general population, including high incidence of hypertension and obesity.
In Isla Mujeres, minimum wage is about $5 USD a day. Most islanders are fisherman or in other jobs that are directly connected to the tourism industry. During high season, there is more employment (at minimum wage), but in low season, especially hurricane season (June – November), there are very low rates of tourism and therefore high rates of unemployment. Because of the media coverage of the influenza epidemic and the decrease in tourism in the area, the island has been impacted economically with loss of jobs even more so in 2009.
There is a strong need for effective programs that promote and make widely available treatment, health promotion, preventive screening, and sound case management for diabetes. There is only one public health clinic on Isla Mujeres and Dr. Hernandez confirmed that they do not have glucose monitoring devices available at the clinic. All blood testing is done intravenously. Very few people can afford blood glucose monitors or strips and wait until their annual medical exams to get tested. Because of the lack of supplies, people with diabetes often end up in the hospital with decompensated diabetes or other serious acute and chronic complications.
This grant proposal is requesting donated blood glucose monitors, strips, and lancets to bring to the public health clinic and to set up neighborhood clinics where islanders who do not go to the clinic can get their blood tested. We will also bring literature in Spanish on Diabetes, Diet and Taking Charge of Your Health (NDEP).
Karen F. Rosenberg, LISW
2460 Fairmount Blvd #320
Cleveland Hts, OH 44106
Adolfo Andrade-Cetto, Jaime Becerra-Jiménez, Eddy Martínez-Zurita, Pilar Ortega-Larrocea and Michael Heinrich, “Disease-Consensus Index as a tool of selecting potential hypoglycemic plants in Chikindzonot, Yucatán, México”.
3. reported Dr. Doris Heredia Pool, Head of the State Children’s Health Adult Health Services of the State of Yucatan, Mexico .
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