CLARKSDALE, MS: Governors of eight states in the country's Delta region have put almost $1 million behind an RFP for a diabetes education and outreach program.
The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) is trying to reduce the incidence of diabetes in a region that has the second-highest prevalence of the disease. The situation is particularly dire because the aging region also has the highest incidence of obesity, a risk factor for diabetes, as well as the lowest per-capita income.
While more than 7% of the US population suffers from diabetes, the DRA has found that the incidence is "far higher" in the Delta region. Minorities are most likely to develop the disorder.
Diabetes has also taken an economic toll on the region, and states are spending increasingly more of their self-funded Medicaid programs - constituting about 20% of state budgets, according to the American Diabetes Association - on diabetes management.
The RFP encompasses a number of PR activities, such as enlisting third-party financial support, generating media coverage, and creating print, broadcast, and Web-based commercials.
In addition, the selected agency will create a call center to screen Delta residents and refer them for additional health services, when needed. The call center will also screen for Medicaid eligibility and help callers enroll in that program.
Media relations will be used to promote the toll-free hotline.
The DRA also plans to track calls in a database that will chart patient progress and Medicaid billings.
Work on the program will begin May 1; the first phase will run for five months, but the contract can be renewed for five additional years. The DRA is contributing $990,000 to the project, but the selected agency will be tasked with developing additional funding sources.
The education piece is being created with input from physicians at Harvard University's School of Public Health, as well as the University of Mississippi Medical Center at Jackson.
Messages will focus on getting people to recognize the symptoms and risk factors, and encouraging them to seek treatment.