Yesterday afternoon there was a session on ADA's advocacy efforts and how health care professionals can (and should) be involved. Part of the ADA's mission is to support people with diabetes by advocating for fair and non-discriminatory treatment in the workplace and at school. ADA does this by advising and supporting individuals (such as families of school children), by educating employers and school personnel, by getting involved in litigation, and by marshaling its volunteers to support legislation related to diabetes or diabetes research. We've been involved in some major lawsuits, such as one against the city of Philadelphia regarding prisoners with diabetes who were not getting basic care (like insulin). We've supported legislation on the state level about coverage of supplies and diabetes education (46 states have such laws now), and on the federal level about funding for the NIH and CDC for research.
Many of these efforts have involved passionate volunteers, but many times health care providers and scientists haven't been so involved. However, people like physicians and nurses can have a huge impact in terms of educating attorneys, legislators, or employers. Their voices carry great impact. The night before the session, I spoke to some of the people who were to lead the session. Since it was to take place in the midst of a scientific meeting, they were concerned that attendance might be very low. Well, the room was packed! The discussion was passionate, and many people came to the mikes and spoke about their experiences with patients who were victims of discrimination. I think it lit a fire for advocacy among the many health care professionals who attended.