When the National Diabetes Education Program gathers for its annual meeting this summer it will install a Pittsburgher in its top elected position. University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute Executive Director Linda Siminerio was elected as chair earlier this year.
The federally-funded program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Siminerio refers to the nation’s struggle with type II diabetes as an epidemic but warns that it is already a pandemic in other parts of the world.
“China and India have the most people with diabetes and we are seeing diabetes in Africa and Japan. We never saw diabetes in these places,” said Siminerio.
Siminerio has been involved with the NEDP for years and says she is excited about taking on a more active roll with the organization that works to spread reliable information about diabetes care and prevention.
“Knowledge is power,” said Siminerio who believes it starts with asking your doctor important questions. “For those people who are already diagnosed with diabetes: What do my blood sugars mean, what kind of tests do I need to do, when do I get my eyes examined, how often should I be seeing a doctor, what questions do I ask a dietitian? Those are very, very important things that people need to know.”
Siminerio points those with questions to the NEDP website to get answers.
“The next generation… they go into a doctor’s appointment totally informed from the Internet. That’s what everyone should do and especially with a chronic disease that you manage everyday. You need to be empowered,” said Siminerio.