ADA 2012 Annual Meeting Sponsorships

SWME Sends Physician Leaders from Guyana and Haiti to American Diabetes Association (ADA) Scientific Sessions

Miami, Florida, United States (June 18, 2012) – For the second year in a row, the Society for Worldwide Medical Exchange (SWME) has sponsored physicians from developing countries to attend the American Diabetes Association’s (ADA) Scientific Sessions. With the goal of improving the health of people worldwide, SWME supports the continuing education of humanitarian physicians to enhance their knowledge, competence and skills. SWME sent two West African doctors to the Scientific Sessions last year; both were influential specialists in diabetes, spearheading medical education programs in Ghana.   The two doctors selected to attend the 72nd Scientific Sessions - Maxine Swain, MD from Guyana and Marie Nancy Charles-Larco, MD from Haiti - were recommended to SWME by Linda Cann, ADA Vice President, Professional Education, Conventions and International Affairs.

Maxine Swain, a retired physician and public health specialist, serves as Vice President of the Guyana Diabetes Association.  With over 20 years of dedicated service under her belt, she remains deeply committed to the fight against diabetes and chronic disease.  For Swain, diabetes is a cause that hits very close to home. “What deepens my conviction is that I am also a diabetic, and seeing what happens at home with diabetics and comparing it to what happens in other places, we really need help,” Swain says.  Anecdotally, around 40,000 people in Guyana - out of a modest national population of about 750,000 - have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the number is on the rise.  In response, the association aims to establish a facility where they can educate patients and physicians on how to better manage the disease.  Swain has also emerged as an expert trainer and national focal point on the use of conversion maps, a new tool for teaching self-managed care to diabetes patients.

Marie Nancy Charles-Larco is also a distinguished physician and vocal advocate in the global campaign against diabetes.  She is the volunteer Medical Director and Coordinator for Fondation Haïtienne de Diabetes et Maladies Cardio-Vasculaires (FHADIMAC), a medical association based out of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The organization provides clinical care, medicine and education programs to those battling diabetes and hypertension.   With 7% of the population over 20 years old suffering from diabetes and 45% suffering from hypertension – 1 in 2 working adults – the nation is crippled by chronic disease. The situation became particularly critical in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history.  Among the few buildings left standing after the quake, FHADIMAC became a sanctuary for thousands of diabetics uprooted from their homes and in desperate need of medicine and intensive care.  Charles-Larco explained, “A lot of them died because of the lack of medicines, we lost young adults and children because insulin was not available.” Within less than a week FHADIMAC opened its doors to the community, responding to the needs of over 6,000 patients in 6 months.  Since then, Charles-Larco has worked tirelessly to secure funding and partners to expand programs including the opening of 12 new clinics in the region most affected by the earthquake, a pilot project to be extended to the rest of the country, and the expansion of the clinic in Port-au-Prince to offer intensive foot and eye care and physician training.

SWME’s goal is to connect sponsorship recipients with the most up-to-date information within key specialty fields. For Swain and Charles-Larco, attending the Scientific Sessions is also a chance to connect with potential partners and supporters for their programs, another rationale behind SWME’s sponsorship program.  SWME also collaborates with medical associations and other entities to bring continuing education programs to physician communities around the world.