Dear friends, for us hear at Wuqu' Kawoq, our diabetes program in near and dear to our hearts. It was our first program ever, and still to this date one of our more successful. But we often get asked by others why we have chosen to focus so many of our resources on diabetes.
Here's the reason why. Although many people, when they think about developing countries, they think about infectious diseases like tuberculosis and HIV and malaria. However, in reality, a majority of deaths in the world are caused not by infectious diseases, but rather by chronic medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Speaking of diabetes in particular, almost 350 million people in the world have diabetes, and 80% of those live in poor countries. Over the next 20 years, the number of deaths worldwide from diabetes will double. In Guatemala rates of diabetes are rising. For example the rate of diabetes in women in Guatemala was 8% in 1980; today it is around 14%.
For these reasons it is essential that non profit health organizations begin to develop effective programs to target diabetes and other chronic conditions in the poor populations they serve. It is heartbreaking to us to hear stories like that of Fernando, one of our diabetic patients. He came to us discouraged and overwhelmed, suffering from both diabetes and heart failure. He had been told by another medical clinic that there was 'nothing that could be done' and that he should return home and put his affairs in order.
We at Wuqu' Kawoq, however, do not believe that chronic medical problems need to be a death sentence, and we believe that poor persons are entitled to effective and high quality treatments for their health problems. This is why we have a diabetes program, and we thank you so much for believing in and supporting our vision!