indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Surgeon General puts emphasis on prevention
Thursday, February 5, 2004

The U.S. Surgeon General urged tribal leaders on Thursday to adopt more preventive health care efforts or face a new generation of unhealthy Native Americans.

At a meeting of the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), Dr. Richard Carmona called attention to the "health care crisis" in the nation. Americans, he said, wait until they have a problem before seeking treatment.

This means the crisis is not really about health care, but about who pays for it. "We allow people to develop chronic diseases," he said. "We wait until they have a problem and then we spend extraordinary amounts of money and take all the best science in the world and focus it on that person."

As one example, Carmona said obesity -- a growing problem among American Indians and Alaska Natives -- costs the U.S. $117 billion a year.

"And just that one entity, obesity, is all preventable," he said.

Unless changes are made, Carmona said, "we'll have more diabetics, we'll have more overweight people, we'll have more problems. We're breeding a sedentary, sick society."

Coming from a poor and occasionally homeless Puerto Rican family in New York City, Carmona dropped out of high school before later earning his general equivalency degree. He went on to become a successful surgeon and said yesterday it was his 20 years of running a health care system that helped him understand the needs of Indian Country.

Going to a reservation, he said, is an "eye-opener." "Nowhere in the United States are health care disparities more manifest than in our Indian nations," he said.

As he worked with patients from the Tohono O'odham, Yaqui and other tribes in southern Arizona, he discovered that most of the problems they suffered were preventable. Changes in diet, lifestyle and behavior can mean the difference between life and death, he observed.

That's why Carmona said his number one goal as the nation's top doctor is to emphasize prevention. He cited provisions in the recent Medicare reform bill that would benefit Native Americans. Tribes, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), can get reimbursed for preventive care, he said, even for simple actions like performing physicals for elders.

Another area he is focusing on is emergency preparedness. In light of bio-terror and other threats in the nation, he said all Americans are now intimately aware of the need to be more secure. Tribes aren't treated equally when it comes to homeland security and can't tap directly into the billions available for it, but Carmona didn't address the issue yesterday.

A final goal is reducing health care disparities. Numerous studies show that Native Americans have higher rates of chronic diseases and illnesses than almost every other racial and ethnic group.

"People of color in the U.S. have less access to care," Carmona said. "And, the fact is, when you do have access to that care, the outcome is poor."

Earlier this week, the Bush administration released its fiscal year 2005 budget for IHS. The request calls for $3 billion, or an increase of 1.6 percent above current levels. Dr. Charles Grim, the IHS director, said there is a $7 million increase for preventive health services, including funds to hire more community health aids in rural Alaska Native villages.

Not everyone is convinced the request is enough. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), the ranking member on the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction over Indian affairs, said the the budget cuts Indian alcohol and drug abuse programs and money for new hospitals and clinics. He said the federal government spends just $1,900 per year on Native Americans but twice the amount on prisoners.

"Why this administration refuses to treat our first Americans as least as well as we treat our prisoners baffles and disgusts me," Rahall said yesterday. "Indian Country is entitled to more than a Band-Aid for their serious health issues."

Budget Documents:
HHS Budget in Brief | HHS Performance Plan | Secretary Thompson's Remarks

Relevant Links:
Surgeon General - http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/sgoffice.htm
Indian Health Service - http://www.ihs.gov
Department of Health and Human Services - http://www.hhs.gov

Related Stories:
Grim promotes Indian Health Service funding (2/3)
Daschle asks Bush to increase funding for IHS (12/18)
Democrats lay out plan for minority and Indian health (10/22)
Daschle: Improve Health Care in Indian Country (10/15)
Senate votes down health and trust measures (09/24)
Senate rejects one IHS funding measure, passes another (03/26)
Tribes told to explore health funding options (02/05)
Thompson releases new IHS budget (2/4)
Indian Country receives diabetes grants (12/11)
Congress approves $750M for Indian diabetes (11/21)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
White House to host first-ever Native youth conference on July 9 (4/24)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe fires casino manager (4/24)
Lakota Country Times: Timothy Standing Soldier passes on at 54 (4/24)
Mark Trahant: Invest in our Native youth for long-term success (4/24)
James Giago Davies: True believerism and comic book solutions (4/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Oglala Sioux Tribe must act on legal marijuana (4/24)
Ed Rice: Cleveland team comes up with excuse for racist mascot (4/24)
White House Blog: Recognizing tribal Climate Action Champions (4/24)
House subcommittee looks at poor conditions at Indian schools (4/24)
Navajo actress was put in darker makeup for Adam Sandler film (4/24)
Eastern Cherokee group plans lawsuit over tribal council raises (4/24)
Column: Commission takes on truth and reconciliation in Maine (4/24)
Senate votes to confirm Loretta Lynch as next attorney general (4/24)
ICT interview with confirmed NIGC Chairman Jonodev Chaudhuri (4/24)
Dave Palermo: Tribes in California assert right to Internet poker (4/24)
Pokagon Band casino remains a concern for Indiana lawmakers (4/24)
Pojoaque Pueblo places casino manager on administrative leave (4/24)
White Earth Nation promotes tribal members in casino positions (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student vies for Miss Indian World (4/23)
Lakota Country Times: Tribal citizens named to education board (4/23)
Ivan Star: Struggling with the warrior heritage in Indian Country (4/23)
Dana Lone Elk: Lakota people still carry on fight of Crazy Horse (4/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee passes bill to renew NAHASDA (4/23)
BIA faces fire over latest reforms to federal recognition process (4/23)
Opinion: First Lady brings truth with remarks about Native youth (4/23)
Incoming leader of Navajo Nation stresses importance of youth (4/23)
Native actors storm off set of Adam Sandler film in New Mexico (4/23)
Marijuana seen as new frontier in tribal economic development (4/23)
Senate approves anti-trafficking measure with tribal provisions (4/23)
Interview with Gyasi Ross about spoken word release Isskootsik (4/23)
Blackfeet Nation launches campaign to ban drilling at sacred site (4/23)
Cherokee Nation celebrates births of first calves from bison herd (4/23)
Burns Paiute Tribe investigates fire that destroyed two bulidings (4/23)
Kaibab Paiute Tribe welcomes designation as 1st dark sky nation (4/23)
University of Minnesota sees surge in Native student enrollment (4/23)
Editorial: Minnesota tribes work together to address treaty rights (4/23)
Editorial: Maine governor fails to treat sovereign tribes as equals (4/23)
Brazil to host inaugural World Indigenous Games this September (4/23)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation probes woman's death at casino (4/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation vows defense for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Seminole Tribe talks with lawmakers about Class III casino deal (4/23)
Editorial: State needs assurances from Quapaw Tribe on gaming (4/23)
Native Sun News: Tribes take DOI to task over grizzly bear policy (4/22)
Native Sun News: Lakota rodeo legend Howard Hunter passes on (4/22)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation language programs are working (4/22)
White House Blog: Improving the lives of Native American youth (4/22)
Bob Gough: Indigenous people most affected by climate change (4/22)
Duane Champagne: Indigenous accommodation for colonialism (4/22)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee on transportation (4/22)
Navajo Nation voters choose Russell Begaye as next president (4/22)
Appeals court sides with Indian inmate in religious rights case (4/22)
Kashia Band interested in timber not marijuana on new lands (4/22)
Kaw Nation to return to ancestral land in Kansas for ceremony (4/22)
Moapa Band to host Further Future music festival next month (4/22)
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe runs into opposition to fish hatchery (4/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.