News & Announcements
Tribes and State Leaders Create the First Truth & Reconciliation Commission of Its Kind in the US
Posted: October 31, 2011
In Maine, the State government and the Wabanaki tribes have started the process of creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. This effort, the first of its kind in the nation, comes from over a decade of work between tribal and state welfare agencies, to address the long term effect of child welfare practices on tribes. Chiefs of the Wabanaki nations, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and Altvater signed a Declaration of Intent to Create a Maine/Wabanaki Truth & Reconciliation Process, a process meant to heal people from the traumatic experience of the past behind and move toward the best possible child welfare system for Wabanaki children.
For more than a decade, Altvater and other indigenous Wabanaki women have worked with a Truth and Reconciliation Convening Group of individuals from the Maine Tribal Child Welfare, state Department of Health and Human Services Office of Child and Family Services and staff from the Muskie School of Public Services, American Friends Service Committee and Wabanaki Mental Health Association to bring the Truth & Reconciliation project forward. “Everyone wants to know what the goal of this project it,” Altvater said. “For me, it is about healing, education and learning. It is about changing how we do our work in the future so that every child we are responsible to protect is treated with kindness and dignity and given the best we have to offer so they will have a place that is always safe.” The Maine Tribal-State Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will be the first of its kind established in the country, said Penobscot Chief Kirk Francis. “This is truly a historic event,” Francis said at the ceremony. “This TRC process is unique in that parties on both sides have come together with the best interests of Wabanaki children and families at heart. It is a model of collaboration that can be replicated in other areas of tribal-state relations in Maine and has the potential to be a model for other states as well.”
Read more on Indian Country Today Media Network.com. Visit the Maine Wabanaki Child Welfare Truth & Reconciliation Commission Facebook page.
Pathways to Integrated Health Care: Strategies for African American Communities
Posted: October 30, 2011
The Office of Minority Health convened a national dialogue on Effective Holistic Health for African Americans in Washington DC in August 2010, to address specific and outstanding concerns related to addressing mental health, substance use/abuse and primary care. It is hoped that this report, Pathways to Integrated Health Care: Strategies for African American Communities, will assist in building systems of prevention by establishing improvements to meaningful access to care for African American individuals and families to holistic and comprehensive behavioral and primary health care through the development of strategies that are culturally designed to meet their needs. This report will additionally make unique contributions to the Department of Health and Human Services by conducting a first ever meeting that focused on complicated issues and prospective solutions that intersect behavioral and primary health care systems of delivery, stigma, cultural competence and proficiency– in a holistic manner.
Forty-five key leaders in health, medicine, mental health, substance use, religion, education, research, advocacy, public policy, and clinical practice developed a set of consensus statements and recommendations for improving the health across the life span of all segments of the diverse American communities of African ancestry across the United States.
The four consensus statements are:
1. A long-term response to health disparities in African American communities has been the development of informal or practice based evidence as well as the use of healers. For behavioral health care and related problems, African Americans often seek services from their houses of worship. However, there is a need to assess these interventions to determine the effectiveness of their outcomes and how the interventions can become evidence-based practices.
2. Reductions in disparities are partially dependent on the quality, quantity, and skills of the health and behavioral health workforce and the type of integrated care applied. There is a need for a more diverse workforce that utilizes culturally and linguistically proficient and competent interventions that are developed within African American communities in addition to those that may also involve adaptations of evidence-based practices from other communities.
3. There is a pressing need to develop and measure a core set of practice standards and criteria that focus on holistic health, wellness, and community based standards.
4. A significant number of the health and behavioral health conditions in African American communities co-morbid with other socio-economic conditions. These cooccurring conditions include substance disorders, severe mental illness, HIV/AIDS, poverty, diabetes, heart disease, low income, unemployment, and homelessness as examples. The presence of multiple conditions increases overall health risks, stigma, costs, and health outcomes.
Disparities Cloud Health Improvements In Past Decade, Report Finds
Posted: October 28, 2011
Minority and low-income groups continue to be less likely to have a regular source of health care when compared to the general population, despite efforts over the past decade to remedy the situation. This and other health disparities persist across race, ethnicity, income level and education, according to the final review of Healthy People 2010.
Healthy People 2010, the third such effort by federal officials, is a decade-long initiative which established an ambitious set of goals in November 2000 to improve the health of all Americans, and the report details how the country did. Progress has been made on a number of counts: Life expectancy at birth went up a year from 76.8 years in 2000 to 77.8 years in 2007. Rates of death from coronary heart disease, stroke and other illness decreased over the course of the decade. Nonetheless, health disparities remain a major problem.
"It's a source of ongoing frustration," said Howard Koh, assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, which manages the Healthy People initiative. Much of the movement on disparity-related objectives "is certainly not in the right direction," or just stagnant, Koh added. HHS officials expect to renew the emphasis on reducing health disparities as they shift attention toward the next installment of goals -- Healthy People 2020. And with the combination of the 2010 health law and a recently announced HHS strategy for minority health, officials said they were optimistic.
Read more on Kaiser Health News.
HIV/AIDS-Poverty Link Strongest in the South, Lack of Education Fuels Epidemic
Posted: October 26, 2011
A study by USA Today that analyzed data from 43 states found that nearly all U.S. counties stricken with both high rates of HIV infection and poverty are located in Southern states. The study drew on data made available from Emory University's AIDSVu project, and offers the clearest picture yet of the close relationship between low income and HIV/AIDS. Southern counties that have the greatest rates of HIV infection are among the poorest in the nation, USA TODAY's analysis shows. Elsewhere in the USA, counties with the highest rates of HIV-infected people had, on average, one in seven people living in poverty, earning roughly $22,350 for a family of four. In the South's most HIV-stricken counties, about one of every five people live below the federal poverty line.
Jonathan Mermin, director of HIV/AIDS prevention at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the agency's research supports the link between HIV and poverty. "People with household incomes of less than $10,000 a year were 10 times more likely to have HIV than people whose household incomes are greater than $50,000." What's more, the South's HIV-infection rates were statistically higher than the rest of the nation, and the epidemic disproportionately affects minorities, especially blacks. In Mississippi, blacks account for 37% of the population but 76% of new cases of HIV.
The analysis highlights a vast geographic shift in the HIV epidemic in the USA in the three decades since the first cases of a deadly new disease were reported in gay men by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1981. The virus has since made its way from big cities on both coasts into the USA heartland, becoming heavily entrenched among black men and women in pockets of poverty in 11 Southern states.
Health Affairs October Issue Focuses on Fighting Disparities, Mentions the NNED
Posted: October 24, 2011
The October Issue of the Health Affairs Journal is entitled - Agenda for Fighting Disparities. One of the articles from the Issue, Reducing Racial And Ethnic Disparities: The Action Plan from the Department of Health And Human Services, mentions the National Network to Eliminate Disparities in Behavioral Health (NNED). The article notes how the NNED provides technical assistance to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's evidence-based behavioral health interventions for trauma and trauma-related disorders affecting minority populations.
The article primarily discusses the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 2011 Action Plan to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, and how it not only responds to advice previously offered by stakeholders around the nation, but also capitalizes on new and unprecedented opportunities in the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to benefit diverse communities. The Action Plan advances five major goals: transforming health care; strengthening the infrastructure and workforce of the nation’s health and human services; advancing Americans’ health and well-being; promoting scientific knowledge and innovation; and upholding the accountability of HHS for making demonstrable progress. By mobilizing HHS around these goals, the Action Plan moves the country closer to realizing the vision of a nation free of disparities in health and health care.
Some of the other articles from the October issue of the journal include: Health Reform and Disparities; Social and Economic Determinants; Place, not Race; A 'Medical Village' for Poor Hispanics; Indian Health Service Innovations; Corporate Role in Reducing Disparities; Undocumented Immigrants Left Out.