How CDC Promotes Health and Prevents Chronic Diseases for American Indians and Alaska Natives
- Many American Indians and Alaska Natives are affected by poverty, discrimination, unemployment, and poor housing.
- These factors have contributed to higher rates of disease, injury, and premature death compared to other population groups.
- CDC works with American Indian and Alaska Native populations to strengthen connections to culture and traditional lifeways that improve health and wellness.
Across the life span, American Indians and Alaska Natives have higher rates of disease, injury, and premature death than other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.
Conflict with the US government and racial discrimination have compromised the culture, traditional lifeways, and wellness of American Indians and Alaska Natives. These challenges have contributed to poverty, unemployment, and poor housing—factors often associated with poor health behaviors and disease management. However, American Indian and Alaska Native traditions and culture can help strengthen evidence-based interventions and improve health outcomes.
CDC works with American Indian tribes, Alaska Native tribes, tribal organizations, Urban Indian Organizations, and Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) to promote health, prevent disease, and strengthen connections to culture and lifeways that improve health and wellness.
Reducing Risk Behaviors That Lead to Chronic Diseases
CDC’s largest investment to improve tribal health is the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country (GHWIC) program, a $15.6 million per year initiative. From 2014 to 2019, the program funded 23 tribes, tribal organizations, and TECs across the United States. Specifically:
- 11 tribes worked on community-chosen and culturally adapted strategies designed to reduce commercial tobacco use and exposure, improve nutrition and physical activity, increase health literacy, and strengthen team-based health care and links between community programs and clinical services.
- 12 tribal organizations worked to provide leadership, assistance, and resources to over 100 tribes and tribal organizations in their Indian Health Service (IHS) area, as well as to GHWIC-funded tribes.
For example, for the past 4 years, the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board has partnered with Project ECHOexternal icon at the University of New Mexico to lead the Partners in Good Health and Wellness Training Program. This effort has mobilized more than 100 tribal paraprofessionals to focus greater attention on heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, commercial tobacco use, and breastfeeding.