Steve Miller is an International Trade Specialist in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Service Industries where he is responsible for knowledge economy issues including health services, research and development services, and university commercialization.
On November 14 the U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait, Matthew Tueller, along with representatives from U.S. and Kuwaiti healthcare institutions participated in a Digital Video Conference (DVC), Diabetes 101: Understanding Diabetes Worldwide to provide education on this healthcare challenge and create linkages between clinicians in both countries. The event was hosted by Kuwait’s previer diabetes research and treatment facility, Dasman Diabetes Institute, the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and San Antonio’s Methodist Healthcare Systems. Methodist is one of over 30 U.S. academic medical centers that comprise the United States Cooperative for International Patient Programs (USCIPP), a joint program between the University HealthSystem Consortium and the International Trade Administration, through its Market Development Cooperator Program (MDCP).
Nearly 60 doctors, nurses, clinicians, diabetes educators and nutritionists from Dasman’s multinational staff were in attendance in addition to several Kuwaiti health care professionals and a number of local journalists from print and television. Opening the event, Ambassador Tueller highlighted the important role that medicine has played in the U.S.-Kuwait relationship, beginning with the establishment of the first hospital in Kuwait, the Amrikani Hospital, by American missionaries in 1912. The Ambassador further noted that, just like in Kuwait, Type 2 diabetes is also a problem in the U.S. and that events such as this DVC illustrate how Americans and Kuwaitis can come together to address mutual concerns and share best practices and experiences to move toward a common goal.
Following the Ambassador’s remarks, Ms. Sara Villegas, a veteran diabetes educator from Methodist Healthcare Systems, gave an overview of diabetes in the U.S., primarily focusing on Type 2 diabetes. Her presentation not only addressed the current situation in the U.S., but also highlighted prevention and disease management strategies. After a brief look at the global scope of the disease, she turned the stage over to Dasman Diabetes Institute Director Dr. Kazem Behbehani, who discussed the rampant increases in Type 2 diabetes in Kuwait over the last twenty years, and the challenges that the country will potentially face if the disease is not checked. In their presentations, both speakers stressed the importance of prevention and awareness activities in combating the disease.
The DVC received widespread and favorable media coverage, with stories appearing in many of Kuwait’s daily Arabic and English newspapers, and reports carried on several local television stations.
Additional events are planned between healthcare institutions in the U.S. and the region. More on ITA’s MDCP program can be found at http://www.trade.gov/mdcp.