Northwest Indian College and HHS Form Health PartnershipMay 15th, 2001 | By tcj | Category: 12-4: Colleges for the Community, Tribal College News
A landmark agreement to recruit, train, and retain Native American students and faculty in the public health professions in the Northwest was signed by Northwest Indian College (NWIC Bellingham, Wash.) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Under the agreement, a Northwest Indian Center for Health Education and Research will be established at the Northwest Indian College, one of 33 tribal colleges throughout the country, and the only tribal college located in Region X (Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.) The college serves approximately 1,500 primarily Native American students. Under the new partnership, HHS Region X will become the first federal satellite downlink site for distance learning connected to the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
“There is a vital need to recruit and train Native Americans in the health and medical fields,” said HHS Regional Director Richard C. Kelley, “and this agreement will help narrow the gaps that exist in health care among Native Americans.”
“The Clinton-Gore Administration’s Initiative to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health focuses not only on improving access to health care for Native Americans but also on increasing the number of Native Americans who serve in the health professions and promoting research and education among minority populations,” Kelley said.
On average, American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.8 times as likely to have diagnosed diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar age. The rate of suicide among Native Americans is about 1.5 times the national rate, and the infant mortality rate is nearly 1.5 times that of whites as well.
“We welcome this partnership with HHS,” said Dr. Tommy Lewis, president of NWIC. “Developing an undergraduate program tailored to the health and medical needs of Native Americans can make a crucial difference in improving the health of Indian people throughout the Northwest.”
In the agreement, HHS will provide technical assistance to the college in developing health-related curricula and activities, offer hands-on public health training and opportunities such as internships and apprenticeships within HHS, and provide an off-campus site for Seattle-based Native American students to participate in distance learning classes and acquire college credit through NWIC.