indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
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:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne student receives top honor (5/22)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home a slew of awards (5/22)
James Davies: The new tactic is to pretend racism doesn't exist (5/22)
Thomas O'Rourke: Yurok Tribe is a leader in forest restoration (5/22)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Message to all young Native Americans (5/22)
Matt Remle: Tribal nations take a stand to protect Turtle Island (5/22)
DOJ proposes bill to improve access to voting in Indian Country (5/22)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready to exercise VAWA jurisdiction (5/22)
Grande Ronde Tribes await decision on flying flag at high school (5/22)
Cherokee Nation sues pharmaceutical firms over drug products (5/22)
Snoqualmie Tribe reports result of election for five council seats (5/22)
Law Article: Navajo Nation wages battle over 'Navajo' products (5/22)
Review: A son leads his father into the wild with 'Medicine Walk' (5/22)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe to distribute $2.7M in gaming revenues (5/22)
Prairie Island Indian Community eyes $19M expansion at casino (5/22)
Creek Nation seeks Native workers for $329M casino expansion (5/22)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe to debut rodeo event at reopened casino (5/22)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks need state to protect gaming enterprise (5/22)
Native Sun News: North Dakota tribe hit with another brine spill (5/21)
Lakota Country Times: NAIHC presents honor for lifetime service (5/21)
Ivan Star: I'm finding it hard to stand for 'Star Spangled Banner' (5/21)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee holds field hearing in Oklahoma (5/21)
Haskell University announces cuts to troubled athletics program (5/21)
Crystal Echo Hawk: Indian Country still invisible to philanthropy (5/21)
Judge won't require school to allow eagle feather at graduation (5/21)
School apologizes for teaching song about brutal Indian mission (5/21)
Coquille Tribe hosts National Indian Timber Symposium in June (5/21)
Pokagon Band to file land-into-trust application at housing site (5/21)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe to hold election for chief and sub-chief (5/21)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community to honor Civil War veterans (5/21)
Yakama Nation woman sentenced to 10 years for child abuse (5/21)
Heroin blamed for crash near Saginaw Chippewa Tribe school (5/21)
Navajo Nation business opens tech data center in New Mexico (5/21)
Opinion: Indian Country left out of nation's economic recovery (5/21)
Review: 'Hoop Jumper' offers look at allotment era in Oklahoma (5/21)
Opinion: Putting a woman on $20 bill might not be an easy task (5/21)
Opinion: Today's Indian wars are being fought over new casinos (5/21)
Oneida Nation close to opening of new gaming facility on June 2 (5/21)
Tribes hail movement on bill for one more casino in Connecticut (5/21)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hoping for casino decision this year (5/21)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe buys properties next to casino (5/21)
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River elder cast in forthcoming film (5/20)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter set for new matches (5/20)
Audio from Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing on water (5/20)
NCAIED set to return to DC with Reservation Economic Summit (5/20)
Mary Pember: New allies in battle against Indian youth suicide (5/20)
Harlan McKosato: It's time to change school policy on feathers (5/20)
Bryan Newland: Important context on land-into-trust process (5/20)
Jay Daniels: Indian Country forced to choose among two evils (5/20)
Anthony Trujillo: A cultural ambassador with the Peace Corps (5/20)
Mark Rogers: Some truths of the ethnic experience in America (5/20)
Indian schools go without fixes while military schools see $5B (5/20)
Indian student in federal court over right to wear eagle feather (5/20)
Pascua Yaqui Tribe hosts Violence Against Women Act training (5/20)
Tribal traditions put to use for battle against substance abuse (5/20)
Apology sought for treatment of tribes at grizzly bear meeting (5/20)
SCOTUSBlog: DOJ urges denial of petition in tribal court dispute (5/20)
County board calls on NFL team to eliminate its racist mascot (5/20)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe names casino hire (5/20)
Judge again refuses to stop Jamul Band from building casino (5/20)
Connecticut lawmakers weigh bill for one more tribal casino (5/20)
Judge dismisses gaming case filed by Cayuga Nation faction (5/20)
Native casino in Saskatchewan on track with expansion plan (5/20)
Native Sun News: Program helps offenders rebuild their lives (5/19)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux Tribe seeks water funding (5/19)
Native Sun News: Comments sought on North Dakota pipeline (5/19)
Mark Trahant: Indian Country finds success in diabetes battle (5/19)
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.