Agraphia Medical Tragicomedy

11Apr/06Off

Indian Health

There was a really awesome talk today about the current state of Native American Health. The guy was an incredible speaker and really highlighted a lot of the disparities between Native American health and the rest of the US. A couple of fun facts:

Native Americans have ~700% higher incidences of alcoholism-related deaths, and ~250% higher rates of deaths from diabetes. The suicide rate is 90% higher in Native American populations.

Though they are the only population in the states guaranteed to have health care, the average amount per year spent on healthcare for Native Americans is $1800, vs. $3500 for the average Medicare recipient and $5000 per Veteran.

I guess the most striking thing about his talk is how simple it would be to treat a lot of these things. The education system is underfunded for the reservations, and so schools try to make up revenues by increasing the number of vending machines. This, in the single most at-risk population for diabetes in the world. In some studies, the average lifespan of Native Americans has been found to be ~54 years old... a full 20 years less than the population of the US at large.

Anyhow, it kind of highlights a lot of the discrepancies between public health and medicine. Public Health initiatives do things like get vending machines out of schools. Medicine is what treats the 6 year old with Type II diabetes... from the vending machines. Which is more effective?

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