244183 “Moving the Needle” for Native American Health

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 2:50 PM

Gayle Dine-Chacon, MD , Center for Native American Health, University of New Mexico, Alburquerque, NM
Tassy Parker, PhD, RN , Center for Native American Health, University of New Mexico, Albuqerque, NM
Western science alone will not “move the needle” in empowering Indian Country to achieve health equity. Recognition of Indigenous thought as an equivalent epistemology and acknowledgment of health belief systems embedded in cultural core values must be part of a standard methodology of scientific inquiry. Health equity will require consultation and support of tribal leadership to create informed health policy and decision making in the 565+ federally recognized tribes and the equitable provision of health resources to off-reservation Natives. Education and training of tribal leaders and communities about social- and self-determinants of health are needed. Self-determination is increasingly complex as the historical format of health care by the Indian Health Service gives way to the provision of responsive health care by tribal communities (PL 93-638, 1975). Creation of a tribal public health workforce will require developing human resources where they live through local resources, e.g., tribal colleges. Substandard housing, economics and education must be confronted as health equity prerequisites. Local decision making facilitated by systematic approaches such as Health Impact Assessments will advance the development of culturally supported interventions through inter-professional collaborations. Exercising their unique political status of sovereignty, tribal leaders set their own parameters for health disparities investigation by implementing tribally driven research, historical trauma investigation, tribal IRB's, and local or regionally based epidemiology centers. Significant progress toward health equity in Indian Country by 2020 will require substantial and sustained public investment, distinction in national health studies, and the inclusion of multiple belief systems as legitimate sources of knowledge.

Learning Areas:
Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss strategies for ensuring equitable provision of health resources on- and off-reservation 2. Identify challenges faced by tribal communities in achieving health equity

Keywords: Native and Indigenous Populations, Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified because I direct a center that provides education, training, research, and student/faculty development to improve the health of American Indians.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.