Newswise — NEW YORK, October 30, 2018 -- As a lead-up to World Diabetes Month in November, Health People: Community Preventive Health Institute filed a petition today with the New York City Board of Health to formally demand the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to declare Type 2 diabetes a public health emergency and finally confront the city’s runaway diabetes epidemic.

In the petition, Health People shows that Type 2 diabetes is the single most widespread disease in New York City, the costliest and the single largest cause of preventable disability, including kidney failure, blindness and limb loss.

It argues that although New York City diabetes cases have soared 50 percent since 2011 to reach 987,000, the New York City Department of Health has ignored diabetes, spending less than $3 million on diabetes prevention out of a budget of $1.6 billion. The consequences include a 55 percent increase in diabetes-related lower limb amputations since 2009. 

“By petitioning the Board of Health, we are saying the Board must force the Department of Health to start the basic, effective public health measures that should have been in place for years; these include paying for proven prevention such as the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a public campaign emphasizing how preventable diabetes actually is, physician training, paying for self-care education for patients generally and targeting education especially to prevent crippling complications such as amputation and kidney failure,” said Chris Norwood, Executive Director of Health People.

In addition, the petition includes two other important proposals for approval by the Board of Health, including:

Ÿ The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene issue an annual report detailing the full number of diabetes-related foot amputations citywide and by borough and zip code.

Ÿ The city to use the information it already collects on all blood sugar (A1C) tests performed in New York City to issue annual reports that highlight the neighborhoods and boroughs where both pre-diabetes and out-of-control diabetes cases are concentrated.

“This is just basic health planning information,” Norwood said. “Although the city has spent millions over the years collecting this information, it doesn’t make it regularly available to the public as it should.”



The petition for a diabetes emergency spearheads a growing movement to counteract the city’s lack of response to diabetes.

“People have seen their communities just devastated,” said Reverend John Williams, Executive Director of New Creation Community Health Empowerment. “Yet we know that education powerfully counteracts diabetes. The National Diabetes Prevention Program alone, which is completely proven to help people improve their nutrition and start exercising, slashes the risks of diabetes by almost 60% even when people already have high blood sugar or pre-diabetes. Why won’t the city pay for it?”

“There is no excuse for the New York City Department of Health’s failure to address diabetes forcefully. Diabetes and its consequences like amputation and kidney failure are injuring the city’s most vulnerable residents more than any other disease or public health challenge,” said Robert Morrow, MD, Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “These consequences are both predictable and preventable and prevention is supposed to be what a public health department does.”

Other groups citywide which support the call for the Department of Health to declare diabetes an public emergency include AIRnyc, Crossover TV Live with Kendra, Harlem Independent Living Center, Harvest Home Farmer's Market, Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, Morris Heights Health Center and Vision Urbana.

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About Health People

Health People is a groundbreaking peer education, prevention and support organization in the South Bronx whose mission is to train and empower residents of communities overwhelmed by chronic disease and AIDS to become leaders and educators in effectively preventing ill health, hospitalization and unnecessary death.


Established in 1990 as a women’s AIDS prevention and support program, Health People has grown, using its peer-education model, to provide a full range of HIV/AIDS services for men, women and families. It also has conducted community asthma programs, New York’s first diabetes peer-educators program, and a community smoking cessation program. Health People’s Junior Peer program, Kids-Helping-Kids includes teens who are mentors for younger children with sick or missing parents.


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