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Native Americans: A Health Snapshot

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Native Americans: A Health Snapshot

October 03, 2008

This racial group includes any of the original peoples of North, South and Central America who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment. The five leading causes of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives are heart disease, cancer, unintentional injuries, diabetes and chronic liver disease/cirrhosis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities. Native Americans suffer disproportionately high rates of obesity, infant mortality, mental health problems and substance abuse. In 2008, an estimated 4.8 million people were classified as American Indian or Alaska Native (alone or in combination with one or more other races), according to the U.S. Census Bureau. About one third of American Indians live on reservations or other trust lands. The federal Indian Health Service is charged with meeting the health needs of 562 federally recognized tribes residing on reservations. Indians who live elsewhere have limited or no access to these services; many have difficulty accessing health care because of lack of insurance. Other factors that contribute to poor health care include geographic isolation and poverty. Many Native Americans rely on traditional healing practices. Updated February 2010

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The 2017 California Fellowship, for California-based journalists only, will be held March 5-9, 2017 in Los Angeles. This Fellowship will focus on vulnerable populations and access to care and health care reform and innovation. We also take an in-depth look at how community conditions influence individuals' prospects for health. Each Fellow receives a $1,000 stipend to assist with the costs of reporting an ambitious Fellowship project on a California health issue, as well as six months of mentoring by a Senior Fellow. Deadline to apply is Dec. 1. For more information, go here.

Our health care system commits tremendous resources to extending life but comparatively little to end-of-life planning and care that honors patients’ wishes. This webinar will give an overview of the problem, identify changes to our health care system that might help, and offer insights on how journalists might spur more conversations on how we approach death in America. Find info and register here.

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