Native American Heritage Month Health Equity Newsletter
This month, our newsletter focuses on the often neglected population of 5.2 million Native Americans in the United States in honor of Native American Heritage Month. This sizeable population suffers from staggering health disparities compared with the US general population. Native Americans die 5.5 years earlier than the average American. Compared to white Americans, Native Americans suffer nearly twice the rate of diabetes, COPD, obesity, and liver disease and are 60% more likely to suffer from depression and twice as likely to attempt suicide.
With a diverse array of challenges driving these disparities from lack of health insurance coverage to geographic isolation, there are a number of innovative programs that have sought to overcome the barriers to achieving health equity in Native American populations. This month we highlight the important work of research to illuminate these disparities, programs that address them, and individuals who champion health equity among Native Americans.
The Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) Program, a domestic affiliate of Partners in Health (PIH), was founded in 2009 with the mission to eliminate health disparities and improve the wellbeing of American Indian/Alaska Native populations. COPE was built off PIH’s social justice approach to promoting health equity and health systems strengthening globally. Ms. Micah Lunderman and Dr. Sara Selig ground their health care delivery and outcomes improvement efforts in community engagement and patient empowerment principles. Learn more about COPE initiatives here: https://www.copeprogram.org/
Micah Lunderman was born on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation and has grown up and lived on the Rosebud Reservation for the past 34 years of her life. She is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and lives in the He Dog Community with her family.
She previously worked with youth on the Rosebud Indian Reservation addressing the behaviors that lead to negative coping mechanisms among Native American children. In November 2016, she began working with Partners In Health/Community Outreach Patient Empowerment to act as a strong advocate for her home community. Her voice has been called upon to help lead the conversations for her people in addressing and improving community health systems whether it is for mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health. Micah believes that our Native communities, with the right resources, have the ability, to help themselves heal and create better health outcomes. The vision of PIH/COPE is to partner with and learn from communities and build support around them to create a model of change in healthcare systems.
Sara Selig, MD, MPH grew up in Colorado and attended the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Selig is currently an Associate Physician in the Division of Global Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an Instructor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). Dr. Selig is also Affiliate Faculty at the HMS Center for Primary Care and is a Senior Fellow in the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program. Dr. Selig currently serves as the Associate Director for Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE), the domestic affiliate of Partners in Health (PIH).
As the Associate Director of COPE, Dr. Selig collaborates with a variety of partners, such as Tribal nations, Indian Health Service, academic institutions, and community members to improve health care delivery and health outcomes among American Indian communities, specifically among the Navajo Nation and Sicangu Nation (Rosebud Sioux Tribe). Among other initiatives, Dr. Selig spearheaded the development of COPE’s cancer initiative which is patient and community led and seeks to integrate effective oncology care into primary care systems and increase support for patients and families. Dr. Selig also led an interdisciplinary team in the development of a curriculum to support the integration of community health representatives into interdisciplinary community health teams bridging clinic and community providers on Navajo. Since 2015, Dr. Selig has worked closely with community partners in Sicangu Nation to achieve their vision of holistic health for all.
Member Project Spotlight: Want to Share Your Innovative Work with the BFA Community?
The Beyond Flexner Alliance wants to highlight your work! We highlight projects that embody the Beyond Flexner Alliance goal of promoting a social mission in the health professions and want to share the different ways in which you are building equity in education, research, service, policy, and practice. To submit your project please complete this form.
We look forward to hearing from you!
More about our mission and vision:
"Beyond Flexner Alliance (BFA) is a national movement, focused on health equity and training health professionals as agents of more equitable health care. This movement takes us beyond centuries-old conventions in health professions education to train providers prepared to build a system that is not only better, but fairer. BFA aims to promote social mission in health professions education by networking learners, teachers, community leaders, health policy makers and their organizations to advance equity in education, research, service, policy, and practice."
Health Disparities and the American Indian: Dr. Donald Warne on the Way Forward
“Hosts Mark Masselli and Margaret Flinter speak with Dr. Donald Warne, Director of Indians Into Medicine (INMED) at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. He discusses the impact of cultural trauma on the American Indian population, strategies for addressing health disparities and the need to mentor Native youth in the health professions.”
'Powwow Sweat' Promotes Fitness Through Traditional Dance
Announcements and Events
Apply for the National Indian Health Board Health Policy Fellowship
Fellows work directly with their Tribal leadership to identify one priority health issue. Then, with the support of program mentors, Fellows learn how to analyze policy in their issue area, create informed recommendations, and advocate for change.
Putting Care At The Center 2018 | Dec 5-7, 2018
2019 Tribal Public Health Summit | April 9 - 11, 2019
2019 American Indian/Alaska Native National Behavioral Health Conference - Save the Date!
May 15 – 17, 2019. Details TBA
Academy for Professionalism in Health Care 7th Annual Meeting
Social Justice and Professionalism: Exploring the Challenges and Opportunities, May 15-17, 2019
Annual Native American Healthcare Conference, June 10-11, 2019
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) Policy Research Center’s Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum
Lighting the Way: New Paths from Research to Policy, June 23-26, 2019
The NCAI Policy Research Center’s Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum provides an opportunity for researchers, practitioners, community members, and others to present their findings to tribal leaders, policymakers, and tribal members during NCAI's Mid Year Conference.
2019 36th Annual National Tribal Health Conference - Save the Date!
Sep 16 – 20, 2019. Details TBA