Native Peoples and Health
Currently, Native communities must rely on the Indian Health Service for health care in spite of the fact that "the federal government spends less per capita on Native American health care than on any other group for which it has this responsibility." [A Quiet Crisis (PDF, 136 pages)] Lack of funding is particularly detrimental to Native communities because Native populations suffer from higher disease rates and lower life expectancy than any other group in the United States. In addition to alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, mental disorders, pneumonia, influenza and injuries, Native individuals are 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than the general population and have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the world. Furthermore, Native individuals have a life expectancy 5 years less than the rest of the U.S. population, and their infant mortality rate is 150% greater than it is for whites. [National Congress of American Indians: Adoption and Foster Care]
Psychological as well as physical health needs are failing to be met. The suicide rate of Native youth is 1.5 to 3 times higher than it is for other groups of the same age, making suicide the second leading cause of death for Native youth between the ages of 15 and 24. [State Health Lawmakers' Digest: Teen Suicide Prevention] Across reservations, drug and alcohol abuse is a pressing issue that is worsened by the lack of adequate health services for Native populations.
- Fact Sheet on American Indian/Alaskan Natives' Poor Access to Health Coverage (PDF, 2 pages) from the Kaiser Family Foundation, February 2004.
- A Quiet Crisis: Federal Funding and Unmet Needs on Reservations (PDF, 136 pages) from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, July 2003. Full of significant facts and statistics and good clear explanation of how Native lands' trust status affects health care on reservations.
- The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) webpage on Health: A general overview from the National Congress of American Indians, with links to relevant legislation and state Indian Health Boards.
- Office of Minority Health Statistics on Infant Mortality in American Indian/Alaska Native populations.
- Infant Mortality Rates Still High, According to CDC: May 3, 2007, article from Indianz.com.
- Life or Death: Teen Suicide on American Indian Reservations: February 12, 2011, Huffington Post article by Jay Tavare.
- Suicide Prevention Website from the Indian Health Service.
- Study Identifies Suicide Risk Factors in Native American Youth: June 6, 2003, Psychology News article by Eve Bender.
- American Indian Health's web page on suicide.
- HIV/AIDS Among American Indians and Alaska Natives: Statistics, risk factors, and prevention tools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Native American AIDS Prevention Center: An organization that promotes education about HIV/AIDS, supports prevention efforts, and helps foster healthy attitudes about sexuality and sexual health in the Native community.
- American Indian Health’s web page on HIV/AIDS
For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.
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Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.
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