In Puerto Rico, approximately 16 percent of the adult population has diabetes, one the highest prevalence in the world, compared to 10 percent in the general US population. As a result, diabetes represents a significant burden to the local healthcare system and population.
To tackle the rise of diabetes, both the public and private sectors are taking action. As Secretary of Health Dr Rafael Rodriguez highlights, “the federal government funded the diabetes centres, and the health reform covered insulin pumps and the supply of insulin while strengthening cooperation with the private sector. There are programs in 330 primary health centres that benefit the uninsured population, in addition to fair and school visits.”
We consistently partner with stakeholders such as medical and patient associations to do everything that we can to raise awareness about diabetes
On the private sector side, as Wendy Perry, president of the Pharmaceutical Industry Association, reveals, her association is “currently exploring a pilot program for diabetes patients together with local stakeholders in Puerto Rico, which include primary care centres that serve vulnerable communities with a state-of-the-art concept at their facilities.” She stresses that since “early treatment is an important factor to effectively manage the disease progression while containing costs, we want to show that an integrated approach to diabetes patients management will have a positive impact on health outcomes.”
For Eli Lilly, whose diabetes franchise is the largest across the island and covers almost all the classes of diabetes treatments, the company’s “contribution to tackling this issue goes way beyond providing medication,” according to François Gilbert, general manager of Eli Lilly’s local affiliate. “We consistently partner with stakeholders such as medical and patient associations to do everything that we can to raise awareness about diabetes, educate the population and promote healthy habits to help prevent the onset of the disease. As a matter of example, we recently sponsored and participated in the 5K run organized by Banco Popular, one of the largest banks on the island, for the benefit of the Pediatric Diabetes Foundation, as the prevalence of diabetes among children is also an important issue here,” he explains.
In addition, the company supports the frequent health fairs during which health centres provide free medical services that range from general check-ups to nutritional consultations, either at physical locations or with buses travelling across the island. Finally, as Gilbert reveals, the company is currently working on an initiative linking access and reimbursement of diabetes treatment to desired clinical outcomes.