Diabetes is one of the most severe health concerns facing this nation affecting more than 18.2 million persons annually (CDC, 2002). It has been named among the top ten leading health indicators in Healthy People 2010, the nation's health agenda for the decade. Diabetes is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. with huge societal costs. African-Americans (Blacks) are disproportionately affected. Blacks have the highest rate of diagnosed diabetes among all racial groups at 13.0 % and minority women including African Americans are hardest hit by type 2 diabetes. Diabetes lowers average life expectancy by 15 years and significantly increases cardiovascular disease.
SororsCaring is an initiative funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health to train members of leading African-American organizations and sororities on diabetes prevention, education, and management. This innovative project is designed with the goal of training selected members of African-American sororities and leadership organizations to be champions in diabetes prevention and education. The train- the-trainer model will be used to create a cascading effect and allow for the broad dissemination of skills and messages.
This is a novel approach that will build a network of Black professionals to champion the cause of Diabetes prevention. By using sororities, the program will have direct access to large number of African-American women across this nation. Not only are these women in tune with the needs of their cohorts, but also their presence in the community, through their many service projects, makes it potential impact enormous and increases the possibility of the cultural appropriateness of intervention. In addition, the national and regional champions can replicate and institutionalize this model through their local chapters to broaden the scope of this initiative and increase its visibility and reach. This initiative has the potential to directly reach more than 600,000 women.