Intended for healthcare professionals

Bmj Usa: Editorial

The health of American Indians and Alaska Natives

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 19 November 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:E220
  1. Charles W Grim, director
  1. Indian Health Service, United States Department of Health and Human Services

    Health influence factors in common with other indigenous populations

    From BMJ USA 2003;May:242

    The health and welfare of the indigenous American Indian and Alaska Native people of the United States have improved significantly since passage of the Snyder Act in 1921, which authorized health services for them, and official establishment of the Indian Health Service (IHS) in 1955 as an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services. Although the American Indian and Alaska Native populations of the United States number approximately 2.6 million, the provision of federal health services is available only to members of tribes that are federally recognized. Currently there are 562 federally recognized tribes in this country, with a total population of 1.6 million persons who are eligible for IHS services. Of the 50 states, 35 are considered “reservation” states because of the presence of Indian reservations - with 55.7 million acres of tribal land held in trust by the US government for the benefit of tribal governments and their members.1

    A significant factor in the improvement of health status for American Indians and Alaska Natives is the increasing involvement …

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