September 28th, 2009
Language Shouldn’t Be a Barrier to Diabetes Education
From Dr. Victor Miranda, General Manager of Diabetes Juvenil
Given the volume of medical information on the Internet, you might think that reliable and accurate information about diabetes is readily available. While this may be true for online diabetes resources in English, dependable information about diabetes is harder to come by for those around the globe who speak Spanish. (Dele un clic aquí para leer en español)
This is surprising given the prevalence of diabetes in the Hispanic population. I’ll give you an example from the U.S., where I live. According to the most recent national survey data from the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) for people ages 20 or older, 10.4% of Hispanics have been diagnosed with diabetes. Among this segment, the rates for Cubans were 8.2%, 11.9% for Mexican Americans and 12.6% for Puerto Ricans. For those who are first and second generation Hispanic-Americans, Spanish is predominately the primary language spoken at home. What is a parent to do when they receive the news that their child has diabetes? Where can they go for information after the 15-20 minute medical visit is over?
While I found the lack of accessible information in Spanish to be very concerning, our team involved in Children With Diabetes also recognized the importance of helping to foster a community where Spanish-language speakers affected by diabetes could connect. Diabetes Juvenil provides a dynamic place where information can be shared freely and in Spanish, through forums and chats. The interactive forums and chats provide a way for people living with diabetes to discuss topics with other people just like them — people who really identify with what it is to be a patient with diabetes, a caregiver, a parent or grandparent of someone with diabetes. Being able to connect with others around the world who speak the same language is particularly important for families who are experiencing a void of information due to language barriers.
We are also striving to provide links to other groups that are aiming to offer the Spanish- speaking population services similar to other portals available in English, such as links to organizations capable of providing medications that are either free of charge or at discounted prices, as well as organizations for young adults or the elderly living with diabetes.
We realize there is much more that can be done, but we hope that Diabetes Juvenil is a good start. Let us know if there are other things we can be doing to help patients with diabetes. We’re always looking for ways to help and language shouldn’t be a barrier.