The push toward preventative medicine and testing in the African-American community is alive and well in South Florida.

One national group in particular is taking the fight against diabetes directly to an often-used resource in the Black community. They provided testing services to clients in barber and beauty salons in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The Diabetic Amputation Prevention (DAP) Foundation, a nonprofit group, launched its Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program initiative in Florida on August 28. The set of kickoff events included a series of testing events in 16 black-owned hair care establishments in the area. Area Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Fl.) visited one of the locations as the program got underway in the area.

On-site medical professionals provided a range of free services to participants, primarily focusing on diabetes and high-blood pressure screenings. Additional materials about exercise, fitness, obesity, prostate cancer, and breast cancer were available, as well as medical resources guides. The idea was to get Black people more engaged in their healthcare decision-making so they can hopefully encourage others to do the same.

On his website, Hastings notes that “individuals and families without health coverage are more likely to forgo preventative and routine care which often leads to more extensive and expensive medical treatment.” He has made clear efforts to address healthcare disparities and needed solutions for his constituents.

The Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program is a national effort that will make stops across the country in the coming years. They have set a goal of testing 500,000 African-American men for diabetes by 2012. Last weekend was the first time the program visited the South Florida area.

The DAP Foundation has an overall goal of reducing the diabetes-related amputation rates among high-risk groups, such as African-Americans.

Hastings formally recognized the Black Barbershop Health Outreach Program on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30. He and 18 co-sponsors introduced HR-1591, a resolution to show their commitment to prevention, education, testing, and overall wellness in the African-American community.