Wal-Mart Teams With Delta Regional Authority To Fight Diabetes

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With a commitment to battling diabetes in this region, and making healthcare more affordable and accessible, Wal-Mart and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) joined forces to launch a diabetes awareness program in Wal-Mart stores across the eight-state DRA region beginning this month and continuing through March 2008.

With a half-million dollar gift from the Wal-Mart Foundation to support its Healthy Delta diabetes initiative www.healthydelta.com, the DRA will host a series of "Hometown Health Fairs" at Wal-Mart stores -- beginning in Jonesboro, Ark. on Sept. 29 and continuing in select parishes and counties in Alabama, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. Through the Health Fairs, the DRA will continue its efforts to encourage residents who have diabetes or may be at risk of developing the disease to see a health care professional to manage its long-term debilitating effects.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 20.8 million Americans -- seven percent of the population -- have diabetes. That percentage climbs to almost 10 percent of the population in the 240 counties and parishes served by the Delta Regional Authority.

"The health care reform effort in America simply must include disease management programs and Wal-Mart is pleased to support this important diabetes education program in an eight-state region," said Linda Dillman, executive vice president of benefits, risk management and sustainability for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. "Diabetes is a real threat to millions of Americans. With pharmacies, health clinics, and vision centers, Wal-Mart is often a health destination in small towns along the Mississippi River. We look forward to doing everything we can to help the Delta Regional Authority help people manage and avoid diabetes."

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"This Wal-Mart partnership on our Healthy Delta program is truly a remarkable demonstration of the good that can happen when public and private organizations partner to take on important health issues," said Pete Johnson, federal co-chairman of the Delta Regional Authority.

Each Hometown Health Fair will include free biometric screenings: body composition, including weight, body fat and body mass index; total cholesterol check; HDL, LDL and triglycerides levels and glucose level checks available for 200 people at each Saturday event. Free blood pressure screenings and other health information will also be available.

Reinforcing its commitment to help provide access to affordable healthcare in the Delta region, Wal-Mart also announced a unique partnership with Xavier University in New Orleans to reopen the university's disease management clinic that was destroyed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Wal-Mart will provide Xavier space in its Harihan, La. store with hopes to reopen the clinic by the end of this year.

"Diabetes is a controllable disease with possible devastating consequences and it makes good economic sense to use resources on patient education rather than on treating the consequences," said Wayne Harris, dean of the College of Pharmacy at Xavier University of New Orleans. "Effective diabetes management requires an active partnership between the patient, his/her family and health care providers. Patients must understand the importance of self-monitoring of blood glucose levels and they must be taught how to do it on a regular basis. Because of their accessibility in the community, pharmacists are ideally suited to take a leadership role in this component of care."

Healthy Delta will run radio and television advertising in an eight-state region urging diabetics, and people who think they might have diabetes, to call 866-602-3300 for more information about diabetes management. Callers will be mailed information about diabetes prevention and management, as well as information about diabetes prescription medications available at Wal-Mart for $4.

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