State receives $3.5 million to target heart disease, diabetes

Grant part of federal effort to confront chronic health concerns

September 25, 2014|By Kevin Rector | The Baltimore Sun

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has been awarded a $3.5 million federal grant to invest in diabetes and heart disease prevention efforts in five designated regions in the state, including Baltimore.

The award is one of 21 grants totaling $69.5 million and issued to city and state health departments across the country by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, under an initiative "to support public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities, and control health care spending," DHMH said Thursday.

Chronic diseases are leading killers in Maryland. According to DHMH, heart disease, stroke and diabetes are the first, third, and sixth leading causes of death in the state, and are responsible for almost a third of all deaths. Heart disease alone accounted for 24.6 percent of deaths in 2012, the agency said.

The state has already identified reducing deaths from heart disease, reducing emergency room visits due to diabetes and helping people maintain healthy weights as top priorities, and has a series of programs in place to reach those goals.

The federal grant will help in that process, officials said.

"We are committed to health improvement strategies to create a healthier Maryland," said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the state's health secretary, in a statement. "These funds will help us work toward this goal."

In addition to Baltimore, the four regions to be targeted for the prevention work under the grant are Washington County; Allegany and Garrett counties; Caroline and Dorchester counties; and Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

krector@baltsun.com

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