Speakers at Montana Conference Say American Indians Can Improve Their Own Health by ‘Owning,’ Providing Medical Services
Indian people will have better health care when they provide the services themselves, reducing their dependence on the federal government, Katherine Gottlieb, president and CEO of the Southcentral Foundation, said Thursday at a Missoula, Mont., health conference by Indian People's Action and the Montana/Wyoming Tribal Leaders Association, the Missoulian reports.
Care providers, health facilities administrators, tribal leaders, academics and community members attended the conference to discuss the state of American Indian health care in Montana. The Southcentral Foundation, which provides health services to more than 45,000 Alaska Natives and American Indians, receives 45% of its budget from HHS' Indian Health Service. IHS previously administered health care for all American Indians in Alaska.
Gottlieb said that health among Alaska Natives and American Indians in Alaska has improved since tribes in southcentral Alaska began running their own health care program. She added, "We honor and respect our own. Now that our care is in our own hands, we treat it with respect." The foundation has helped to decrease rates of chronic disease, death and infant mortality in Alaska by focusing on prevention and wellness. According to the Missoulian, American Indians in Montana have high rates of chronic disease, death and infant mortality compared with other populations.
Ted Mala, director of tribal relations and traditional healing at the foundation, said that the foundation focuses on traditional culture and traditional medicine, adding, "We do put culture at the core of everything that we do" (Moore, Missoulian, 6/1).