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Fourth World Eye

US Indian Health Care Fails


The US Indian Health Services has compacts with scores of Indian nations and its services cost too much while its services miss the target of exploding chronic diseases.

Diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, suicide and cancers are among the growing number of chronic diseases exploding across Indian Country. More than 75% of the cost of US health care now goes to managing these diseases, and a like amount is being spent in Indian Country.  The problem is that these diseases are all preventable. Little or nothing is spent on prevention, and it is in prevention that the diseases can be stopped and even reversed.

Denis Cortese, president and chief executive of the Mayo Clinic is quoted by the Washington Post as say, “We’re not getting what we pay for.”  Of course Cortese is speaking to the country-wide expenditure for all of health care, but she might as well be speaking loudly about health care in Indian Country. Seattle’s Virgina Mason Medical Center chairman Gary Kaplan is quoted as saying, “Our health-care system is fraught with waste,” and he notes further that half the US expenditure of $2.3 trillion spent on improving health does nothing.

Of the $4.1 billion in funds requested for the Indian Health Service most cannot be said to contribute to chronic disease prevention. Indeed, such a tiny fraction of funds is allocated in support of the traditional tribal health systems that actually do prevent chronic disease and actually do reverse diseases like diabetes, heart disease, alcohol and drug abuse and depression that it can be said that the US government’s health system failure is complete.

Soon to be appointed Secretary in waiting Tom Daschel has a special obligation to work with Senator Tom Harkin and other like minded representatives in the Congress to fashion a New Indian Health System that is cost appropriate, directly addresses chronic diseases, integrates into the traditional health systems and demonstrates that health actually improves.  The current system merely proves that one must wait until the disease is in full bloom before there is a health system response.  This is backward thinking. Communities and health delivery systems must be pro-actively engaged to prevent disease from environmental causes, introduced processed foods, unnecessary convenience-making systems like moving escalators, and bad diets based on low incomes.

A Whole Health Indiah Health System is in order. We don’t need new ways to pay for a broken system.  Indian Country needs a whole new health system, and the President Elect Barack Obama administration has a duty to respond to this important need.

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  1. Having watched the deterioration of my own nations health scheme in a rapidly escalating boom bust, I feel the answer is in community health centers, recognizing traditional medicine and practitioners whilst maintaining academic medical science and developing a trust based on holistic convergence. The Apache University of Nevada is World Famous [I learned of it by word of mouth 20 years ago] surely a community would volunteer if they [AUN] were involved and the trust would be there. I would dearly like to see America do this and then send a team of Aboriginal Australians to learn from the experience and hopefully build their own University. [I've got one in mind] At a time when fiscal expedience is paramount and morale is tentamount to that expedience medical centers designed with traditional governance "ala Florence Nightingale" and built up on a sensible budget with a creative philosophy "for instance nano technology" will firstly reinvigorate the actual heart of thanksgiving and consolidate the citizen body at the grass roots level [popular culture can be a very positive thing]. From there the full size of the American health system can be interfaced and upgraded with the same engineering logic that any 24/7 Engineering Works is upgraded with new technology, ie digital conversion of Petrochemical Super Works. The most important part of the exercise is the actual process itself for that is what builds trust and trust itself is a healthy physiological state for the human being of any culture,[the richest hospital on earth cannot heal a distrustful person] and current stress on systems in general is breeding distrust in occidental nations at an alarming rate. Digressing momentarily; it will only take 6 percent of the profit made by 80% of the stock market in the last seven years creatively invested in the sub-prime mortgage market to turn the bottom of the bust into the next rise, BUT OBVIOUSLY WE ARE GOING TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY YES? I will actually be prepared to go with your idea of Education if you commence a medical system that makes ACADEMIC SENSE, but health is the first fruit of education and you judge a tree by what grows on it. Come on look how big and well you do everything else, this is an utterly incongruent post modern paradox, your Engineering Standards literally rebuilt the Post WW2 world, now how big does your health system challenge look compared to that?--NOT ANYWHERE NEAR AS BIG- Integrated Nexus of community centers unloading unecessary workload from City Hospitals and ultimately departing from conglomerate oversized Hospitals and their inherent hygene challenge due entirely to volume of space for biological evolution of virulent strands of mutant DNA for example "Golden Staff." SURVIVAL OF THE CO-OPERATIVE-The True Story of The Evolution of the Species [more on that later]. Community health centers cooperating with local knowledge, traditional healers and organic cures, cooperating with Modern hosptals, optimum sized and spaced in the community, Urban, Suburban, Extra-Urban, Regional and transport accessible from remote, built in line with post-modern sustainable and ultimately ecology enriching Architectural Standards with view to space transportable modules,is where we are heading, lets get on with it. The whole key is to start.
  2. Sonoma County Indian Health Project is doing superb work in providing Health Care, Mental Health Care, Diabetes Prevention, Parenting, Child Care, Native youth cultural activities and leadership training, Drum Circle, Wellbriety Counseling and a myriad of other wonderful programs for American Indians. There is so much good occurring at this institution. Molin Malicay is our CEO with a kind heart and a generous spirit. We are having a Native American children's benefit concert at the Friedman Center of Congregation Beth Ami on Mayette Avenue, Santa Rosa, California on Saturday, December 20th from 2:00-7:00. We welcome you. Bring a toy or jacket for an American Indian child. is a wonderful website with footage of Pomo dance and ethnobotany, transmission of American Indian traditional knowledge from elders to the youth. Amy Eisenberg, Ph.D. Sonoma County Indian Health Project
  3. Indian Govt is taking many precautionary measures for heart care, i acknowledge the step that they have taken for heart care. Heart Surgery
  4. [...] Fourth World Eye Blog [...]
  5. There will always be health problems unfortunately. I think if people stick together it will all be okay though. Thanks for the great article! Tara |

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