indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
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:
Native Sun News: Tribe threw away late veteran's memorabilia (10/31)
Mark Trahant: The Native vote could decide the 2014 election (10/31)
Richard Peterson: Sen. Begich supports Alaska Native issues (10/31)
NCAI investigates conduct of treasurer at annual convention (10/31)
Red Lake News: Tribe welcomes Sen. Tester and Sen. Franken (10/31)
Former chairman of Chippewa Cree Tribe faces more charges (10/31)
Texas couple accused of selling fake tribal membership cards (10/31)
Moapa Band loses bid for $438M solar facility on reservation (10/31)
Passamaquoddy Tribe won't talk with tidal power developers (10/31)
Oregon tribe anticipates May 2015 opening for Class II casino (10/31)
Trial opens in case connected to Choctaw Nation casino work (10/31)
Editorial: Off-reservation gaming project unfair to other tribes (10/31)
Opinion: Menominee Nation exploits loophole to pursue casino (10/31)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux officer rejoins Rapid City police (10/30)
Mark Trahant: Native voters must be prepared on election day (10/30)
Kevin Gover: Mascot fight exposes myths about Native people (10/30)
Northern Arapaho Tribe: Newspaper got it wrong on joint council (10/30)
Peter d'Errico: Kevin Washburn honored by Indian law students (10/30)
Chris Deschene still urging Navajo Nation voters to choose him (10/30)
Tribes in North Carolina back Democrat Sen. Hagan in tight race (10/30)
NWPR: Tribes take steps to control growing herds of wild horses (10/30)
Opinion: Helping the Tongva people revive their own language (10/30)
Judge grants injunction to keep Chukchansi Tribe casino closed (10/30)
Tribes in South Dakota would benefit from gaming referendum (10/30)
Employee at Puyallup Tribe's casino gets wedding ring returned (10/30)
Editorial: Keep tribal casinos in California on existing Indian land (10/30)
Column: Menominee Nation off-reservation casino goes ignored (10/30)
Quapaw Tribe faces competition for Kansas commercial casino (10/30)
Native Sun News: Montana tribe sees cut in heating assistance (10/29)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Senate race is a real test of Native policy (10/29)
Winona LaDuke: Taking treaty advice from indigenous nations (10/29)
Vena A-Dae Romero: FDA failing to consult tribal governments (10/29)
Zachary Pullin: Native Americans overcame barriers to voting (10/29)
Navajo Nation president vetoes bill to address language issue (10/29)
Prairie Island Indian Community sues over nuclear waste rule (10/29)
County's letter on CSKT water compact talks stirs controversy (10/29)
Vice: Hip-hop artist Drezus on new journey after jail sentence (10/29)
Opinion: Overcoming stereotypes of Native American culture (10/29)
Charges sought in dispute at Chukchansi Tribe's closed casino (10/29)
Pechanga Band chair featured in ads against North Fork casino (10/29)
Grand Ronde Tribes continue fight against Cowlitz Tribe casino (10/29)
Puyallup Tribe offers reward for return of casino worker's ring (10/29)
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.