Diabetes conference first of its kind in Mexico
A nurse tests the blood glucose level of a San Miguel de Allende resident during the Diabetes Conference 10 April. Photo courtesy of Rotary Club of Tallahassee, Florida, USA
With diabetes a leading cause of death in Mexico, two Rotary clubs in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, organized a conference to bring together medical professionals from both the United States and Mexico to address the issue.
The Diabetes Conference in San Miguel, held 10-12 April, was Mexico’s first-ever bilingual conference on diabetes and the first organized entirely by Rotarians. The village, a popular tourist destination, has a sizable English-speaking population.
More than 200 doctors and health care professionals took part in the event, educating health care providers on better detection and treatment of the disease. At least 300 members of the public attended sessions, conducted in both English and Spanish, raising awareness of diabetes, and ways to prevent its onset. Free diabetes testing and glucose monitoring devices were provided.
William B. Webb, international service director for the co-sponsoring Rotary Club of Tallahassee, Florida, USA, said the conference armed more than 500 villages in the area with knowledge and resources to combat the disease.
The event was paid for with a grant from pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. The Municipality of San Miguel de Allende also provided financial and logistical support.
"We realized that diabetes, especially here in Guanajuato, is a major health problem," said Salvador Quiroz, an internist at Hospital de la Fe and a member of the San Miguel Allende club, in a press release. "That is why we organized this conference."
The three clubs, along with the Rotary Club of St. Francisville, Louisiana, USA, also secured a Matching Grant from The Rotary Foundation for a digital camera and laser, which will be donated to the town’s general hospital, for the diagnosis of diabetic retinopathy, a common cause of blindness in adults.
Roots of the idea
Webb chose San Miguel de Allende to partner with for a service project because he had been charmed by the town during a visit years earlier. In 2007, he attended a service projects committee meeting of the San Miguel midday club, and knew he’d discovered the core of a project management team. They chose the topic of diabetes because both clubs had experts on the subject, and it's a leading health concern in the country.
Dr. Larry C. Deeb, a Tallahassee club member and pediatric endocrinologist, spoke on the modern management of the disease. He noted that Mexico has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the world. Other experts included Dr. José Ángel Córdova Villalobos, health secretary of Mexico; Dr. James R. Gavin III, an endocrinologist specializing in diabetes and member of the Rotary Club of Atlanta; and Dr. Claudia Karina Anaya, an epidemiologist with the Health Center of San Miguel.
Webb gives much of the credit for organizing the event to the host clubs.
"The Rotarians in San Miguel are the real heroes, in my opinion," he says. "They got it all organized in a remarkably short time."
For more on diabetes, read how a former Miss America is giving the disease a new face.