While it can be easy to dismiss diabetes as a trivial disease, or as something that is inflicted on a person by their own lifestyle choices, Tommy’s presentation opened my eyes to some of the less commonly considered impacts of the disease. In the video watched in class last Friday, we saw the serious long-term health effects that diabetes can have on a patient: amputations, heart disease, and loss of sight. Hearing first hand stories about this dangerous progression of diabetes got me started thinking about how serious it actually is. Then, Tommy’s presentation opened my eyes even further.
With a lot of diseases, we tend to focus on the direct impacts it has on a patient, failing to consider the long term indirect impacts it may have on those around them. I was shocked by the statistic that infants are five times more likely to die in the first year if their mother has diabetes. I agree with Tommy’s conclusion that this relationship, along with its other facets, between diabetes and infant mortality is likely a prominent factor in the abnormally infant mortality rate of the Tohono O’odham.
The policy implications of this fact are tremendous. Not only does the extremely high rate of diabetes for the Tohono O’odham impact the well-being for the current generation, it also has serious implications for future generations. If diabetic mothers are significantly more likely to have unhealthy children, the next generation of Tohono O’odham could wind up even worse off than their parents. If the next generation is too preoccupied with health problems, there will not be room for preservation of culture and tradition. Efforts to educate about the dangers of diabetes, including the impact on future generations, must be strengthened for the sake of the resiliency of the tribe. It may sound like a scare tactic, but taking advantage of selfless tendencies and warning young women of the complications that diabetes can cause for their potential future children could motivate healthier decisions.