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Project HOPE: Five Lessons From the Global Fight Against Diabetes

Barbara Smith, MPH, CDPM, is a senior program officer for Project HOPE, where she oversees the non-profit’s noncommunicable disease programs.



Project HOPE is a worldwide health and humanitarian organization that has been working to remodel the health and well-being of individuals world wide for the past 65 years. Since 1996, now we have worked specifically on increasing education, prevention, quality care, and treatment access for type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, and pre-diabetes.

Healthcare Staff Matter

A big focus of our work is training healthcare staff to enhance skills within the care and treatment of assorted diseases and health issues. Due to our long history of strong partnerships and leaders that sought to bridge gaps in healthcare and reach those most in need, Project HOPE was the primary NGO to create noncommunicable disease programs in 1996 with an assessment of the diabetes epidemic in China.

To accomplish that, we work with healthcare professionals, community medical examiners, people living with diabetes, people prone to diabetes, adolescents, and school-aged children. Now we have used online education, mHealth, telehealth, clinic-based health, and peer support to construct the capability of health systems to enhance access to and standardize care.

Our 1998 NCD assessment in China opened the door to a portfolio of diabetes programs that has spanned nearly 20 years. In China, Project HOPE started off training tertiary level healthcare professionals within the delivery of diabetes-related health services, who then trained colleagues right down to the community health level. We worked with communities and, more specifically, families of individuals living with diabetes, to teach them concerning the disease and the way best to look after their loved one. As well as, we developed a nationally recognized diabetes education curriculum progressive community-based total diabetes care networks that helped to fill gaps where little to no look after diabetes existed.

A recent Project HOPE training session in China.

Diabetes is Global, and Awareness Still Must Improve

In 2003, the Project HOPE Mexico team developed an progressive diabetes self-management education curriculum called 5 Steps to Self-Care geared toward reaching the inner Mexico City migrant staff and their families with a game-based, easy language technique of teaching individuals with low-literacy on what the risks for diabetes are, including questions related to how did they get it, what’s diabetes, what changes occur within the body, and what you possibly can do to live a greater, longer life with diabetes. The success of the 5 Steps to Self-Care course in Mexico at improving each clinical and mental health has led to Project HOPE launching six additional cultural adaptations in South Africa, India, Puerto Rico, United Arab Emirates, the Bahamas, and China. Every one in every of these programs have shown similar leads to improving each clinical and mental health amongst participants. Time and again, our trained healthcare providers are told by the participants that this was the primary time they understood what diabetes is and that they may have a greater quality of life with diabetes.

Patients Must Be Empowered to Thrive

In partnership with AstraZeneca’s Young Health Programme (YHP) Mexico, Project HOPE goals to stop probably the most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) corresponding to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease through empowering young people to administer their health. Through the YHP’s unique Peer Education training approach, young people from diverse backgrounds are equipped with health information and skills which they use to coach other young people of their community on health topics including NCD prevention. This empowers them to administer their very own health, and speak up on the health issues that matter to them. By engaging with their families, peers, community leaders, and policy-makers on easy methods to affect change on a greater scale they turn into change-makers inside their communities.

Healthy Habits Start with Childhood

YHP Mexico also implemented the Healthy Habits for a Healthy Weight program with the aim of helping to cut back NCD risk aspects contributing to obesity amongst third-grade school children. This program involved parents, teachers, and students and combined education, screening, and look after those diagnosed with diabetes. Students developed capability in understanding the impact of healthy habits, corresponding to eating five servings of fruit and veggies each day, drinking at the very least two liters of water – as a substitute of sugary beverages – and the importance of physical activity for at the very least 60 minutes each day.

Gestational Diabetes is Too Rarely Discussed

In Mexico and Nicaragua, Project HOPE has trained healthcare staff to advertise universal testing for gestational diabetes (GDM) amongst pregnant women. This program increased access to treatment to cut back maternal-child death and illness with the goal of breaking the cycle of increased diabetes risk by increasing early detection, treatment, and prevention education. As well as, this system used text messaging to achieve additional pregnant women within the participating communities with GDM and prenatal educational messages.

Project HOPE

2023 marked the 25th anniversary of Project HOPE’s work to combat the worldwide epidemic of diabetes. Over the past 25 years, Project HOPE has:

  • Trained over 5,300 healthcare staff on diabetes screening, care and treatment;
  • Reached over 12,500 people living with diabetes with self-management education and improved access and quality of care; and
  • Reached over 636,000 community members with diabetes prevention and academic messages.

Project HOPE believes everyone deserves access to the healthcare they need to achieve their full potential.  We are going to proceed to work to combat the rise in diabetes world wide by improving the talents of healthcare staff to enhance access to quality diabetes healthcare in communities with probably the most need.

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