Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Fighting Diabetes with the Let’s Move Marianas Alliance

Diabetes is a major public health concern in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). In 2009, a CNMI health survey showed that almost 10% of the population reported having diabetes, and almost 2% were told they have prediabetes. Diabetes is a serious chronic disease that can lead to kidney failure, vision loss, and early death. Prediabetes is a medical condition in which someone has a higher than normal level of blood sugar, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.

CNMI public health staff realized that more of the population might have diabetes but not be aware of their condition. The staff wanted to reach out to these people to screen for diabetes and provide education. CNMI used a portion of its Preventive Health and Health Services (PHHS) Block Grant funds to create the Let’s Move Marianas Alliance (LMMA). LMMA coordinated a campaign aimed at improving education and raising public awareness about diabetes and other chronic medical conditions. It also encouraged families to adopt healthier and more active lifestyles.

One of LMMA’s goals was to conduct screenings to learn how the CNMI population was affected by diabetes and prediabetes. Even though LMMA-sponsored screenings might not present a complete picture of the islanders’ diabetes-related challenges, the Alliance could gain a better understanding of how to serve the communities’ health needs. Members of the Alliance worked together to host a monthly “Marianas Health Walk.” Diabetes screening and health education were available at every walk. CNMI used PHHS Block Grant funds to help LMMA promote these activities through radio ads and distributing posters to CNMI stores, agencies, and schools. The funds also helped LMMA print and send out educational materials to participants.

By the end of 2014, LMMA had screened 250 people for diabetes. Participants who were found to be prediabetic or obese were referred to doctors for follow-up medical care.

Story year: 2015

Photo: Glucose meter

The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands used PHHS Block Grant funding to create the Let’s Move Marianas Alliance, which raised public awareness about diabetes and chronic health conditions.

Page last reviewed: April 17, 2018