The IHS presents their "Trends in Indian Health" report once every decade following analysis of the decennial census data along with public health statistics that are taken by IHS employees. The most recent report was published in 2015, which reflects modern demographic data of Native American populations within the IHS service areas.
For Calendar Year (CY) 2014, it was determined that the IHS service population was approximately 2.1 million, and that the service population is growing at a rate of about 1.8% per year. This is understandable as the birth rate for Native Americans in IHS service areas was 25.4 per 1,000 people in 2008, which is exactly 1.8 times greater than the birth of all other races in the United States (Indian Health Service, 2015). However, according to census data, a total of 5.1 million individuals self-identify as a Native American solely or in combination with another race. It is important to note that the IHS service population only covers the populations of the 566 federally-recognized sovereign tribes, which accounts for some of the difference between the self-identification population figure and the figure reported by the IHS (Artiga, Arguello, & Duckett 2013).
There are important demographic and public health factors that are necessary to consider when looking at Native American health care. One such factor is the high level of extreme poverty and social isolation that occurs on reservations. The rates of poverty when considering Native Americans is disproportionately higher than the general population of the United States. Native Americans have rates of poverty in upwards of 41%, while the general United States population has a rate ...
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...l culture, and therefore their etiologies had to be restructured to restore the traditional aspect (Kunitz & Levy 1997: 118).
Because of the pluralism that exists among Native Americans, this creates an interesting yet challenging cultural environment in which to treat them. The implications for the IHS are that their practitioners must be culturally competent or risk providing a low quality of care that does not better their patient. One way that the IHS could help combat this is by employing more Native Americans as practitioners, thereby ensuring that the cultural context for healing is properly observed. This exploration into the IHS has shown that there is still much to accomplish as it relates to Native American health. If the IHS wants to fulfill its mission to the Native American people, competency in their disease etiologies is the first prerequisite.
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