Partnerships for Prevention Coalition holds meeting
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

On Monday April 16, at 4 p.m. a Partnerships-for-Prevention Coalition Meeting was held at the Voorhees Center Rural & Minority Medicine, Sol Blatt Blvd, in Denmark.

The purpose of the meeting was to bring Coalition and interested people up to date on the upcoming visit by MUSC and UNC faculty and to make every effort to involve diverse elements of the Denmark and Bamberg communities in preparation and planning for the MUSC and UNC visit that will take place the latter part of June, followed by two more meetings.

“We’re looking for a program that could be a model,” Dr. Tom Gaffney told the group adding, “People in this room must make it happen.” Dr. Gaffney noted that Voorhees College and the Family Health Center are “vital” to this initiative in getting ready to meet with the visitors from MUSC and the University of North Carolina.

In discussing the public health initiative, Dr. Leroy Davis noted that it was important that the visitors from the two prominent schools of health get a “broad perspective” of the community and he stressed the importance of citizens coming out and sharing their views with them.

In discussing the stated goal of developing an academic-community based, comprehensive, demonstration program for diabetes. It was noted that in the United States 20 percent of 8th graders are diagnosed as being pre-diabetic. In Bamberg County it could be 30 percent to 40 percent.

“An issue that cuts across all ages and requires a community effort.” Dr. Gaffney noted that in the grant the organization is trying to receive, three town hall meetings are planned. He again noted the Family Health Center “must be on board” or the project will “die”.

The objective of the community based, comprehensive program for diabetes is to determine whether development and implementation of an integrated “strengthened” primary care and public health approach can improve risk factors for diabetes in a high risk, high poverty level, rural, underserved, community.

Some strategies that are planned to achieve these goals are: Partnerships and alliances among primary health care providers, hospitals, schools, colleges, businesses, faith based organizations, clubs, and community leaders to push for common health and financial goals.

And to improve risk factors for diabetes, lower health insurance premiums for employers and individuals, nutrition, physical activity, health education, “Community ‘Drivers’ of all types from all organizations are the key.

Other areas talked about if funding is made available include: Tobacco-Free Schools, Colleges and Universities, Increased Tobacco Quit line Referrals, Active Community Environments Activities and improved access to healthy foods and improved community food systems.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity, that will require “a long journey,” Dr. Davis said.