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Diabetes is a leading chronic health condition among patients served by federally funded health centers.   The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health, says that “As of 2008, 2.5 million Hispanic adults, 18 years and older, about 11 percent of that population, have diabetes. Diabetes is more prevalent in older Hispanics with the highest rates in Hispanics 65 and older. On average, Hispanics are 1.5 times as likely to have diabetes as Whites. Mexican Americans, the largest Hispanic subgroup, are almost twice as likely to have diagnosed diabetes than U.S. non-Hispanic whites. And, in 2006 the death rate from diabetes in Hispanics was 50 percent higher than the death rate of non-Hispanic Whites.”

While migrant-specific data are not widely available, this background on Hispanic Americans serves as a proxy; it is likely that migrants, the majority of whom would be classified as a subset of Hispanic Americans, experience even greater rates of disease complications due to occupational, socioeconomic, cultural and political factors.  Some of these include:

  • Cultural issues, such as language, literacy, medical knowledge, health care practices and beliefs, and dietary practices;
  • Poverty, with unreliable transportation, lack of insurance and prescription coverage, inability to buy services and supplies or to modify diets, and substandard housing that may lack refrigeration, privacy, or adequate bath facilities;
  • Migration, causing discontinuity of care and unfamiliar health care systems, as well as special needs related to traveling long distances;
  • Political considerations associated with immigration status of the patient and family, and work environments that typically do not include benefits, supports and protections such as disability coverage or worker's compensation;
  • Work environments that complicate the needs associated with foot care, glucose monitoring, hydration, rest, and self-medication. 

Explore the resources available to combat diabetes in a migrant population in the links on the right of this page.  One of the most important resources avilable for mobile diabetic patients is MCN's Health Network which can help transfer records and find patients care when they move from one location to another. 

For more diabetes resources and tools, check out our new MCN Diabetes Online Toolkit.

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