Why the American Indian Community?

image of Native American woman with goats

AI/AN communities are vastly underserved and impoverished, with widely documented disparities in health outcomes including:

  • 5-year shorter lifespan compared to the general US population.
  • The highest prevalence of type II diabetes in the world.
  • A rate of cardiovascular disease that is rising at a rate significantly higher than the rest of the US population.
  • Among the highest rates of substance abuse and dependence in the nation.
  • Higher rates than all other Americans of tuberculosis, accidents, homicide and suicide.

The Navajo Nation is the largest tribe in the United States with approximately 225,000 members. The tribe is based in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico. Over one-third of those living on the reservation live below the federal poverty line; one-third live in homes without plumbing; and two-thirds do not have telephone access. Patients travel extremely long distances to obtain medical services and often experience cultural differences with their providers. The situation is made worse by a chronic lack of primary care physicians and specialists available to provide timely care.

Our over-arching strategy is that our volunteer clinicians can provide direct patient care when needed; as well as provide the training, knowledge and longitudinal resources for IHS clinicians to expand their comfort zone in managing a spectrum of conditions.