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Native Peoples and Health

Currently, Native communities must rely on the Indian Health Service for health care in spite of the fact that "the federal government spends less per capita on Native American health care than on any other group for which it has this responsibility." [A Quiet Crisis (PDF, 136 pages)] Lack of funding is particularly detrimental to Native communities because Native populations suffer from higher disease rates and lower life expectancy than any other group in the United States. In addition to alcoholism, cardiovascular disease, mental disorders, pneumonia, influenza and injuries, Native individuals are 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than the general population and have the highest prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the world. Furthermore, Native individuals have a life expectancy 5 years less than the rest of the U.S. population, and their infant mortality rate is 150% greater than it is for whites. [National Congress of American Indians: Adoption and Foster Care]

Psychological as well as physical health needs are failing to be met. The suicide rate of Native youth is 1.5 to 3 times higher than it is for other groups of the same age, making suicide the second leading cause of death for Native youth between the ages of 15 and 24. [State Health Lawmakers' Digest: Teen Suicide Prevention] Across reservations, drug and alcohol abuse is a pressing issue that is worsened by the lack of adequate health services for Native populations.

Health Care

Infant Mortality

Teen Suicide


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Last updated on Wednesday, August 24, 2011.

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