ANCHORAGE, AK – MAY 2, 2023 – The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) 40th Annual National Tribal Health Conference - Culture Heals; Culture Knows; Culture Leads kicked off today at the Dena'ina Civic Convention Center to continue developing better and more equitable Tribal solutions to address barriers that prevent access to high-quality care and improved health outcomes.
The National Tribal Health Conference explores health policy, Tribal health equity, and its impact on American Indian/Alaskan Native (AI/AN) Tribal nations. The annual conference advances Tribal capacity to influence federal law and policies and serves as a forum to discuss Tribal health care, public, behavioral, and environmental health, and legislative and policy priorities. “We are so grateful that you are with us for the 2023 NIHB 40th Annual Conference. We look forward to spending this time with you as we examine five key elements; Mind, Body, Spirit, Community, and Advocacy. With 1,400 conference attendees from across Indian County, we are stronger than ever and I am confident that our collective voice will carry throughout the Federal Government, in Congress, and within the Administration.” said William Smith, NIHB Chairman.
Day one began with a variety of informational sessions including; five listening sessions, a two part pre-conference institute, two informational sessions, and a round table discussion. The listening sessions gave attendees the opportunity to provide critical feedback and recommendations to the various agencies on hand. It was also an opportunity to raise issues that affect AI/AN communities. Agencies in attendance included; Indian Health Service (IHS), National Tribal Behavioral Health, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Social Security Administration. The importance of these listening sessions was apparent as each session was well attended and many critical issues were discussed. The NIHB Pre-conference Institutes were designed to include valuable training, presentations on pressing issues, and discussions on available resources. This institute was a two-part session on Climate & Environmental Health, and focused on the work that is begin done across Indian Country to promote climate and environmental health issues and the tools available to Tribal Nations who are improving their climate change preparedness and environmental health outcomes.
Of equal importance, the two informational sessions focused on the topics of Public Health Capacity Building & the Advancement of Tribal Public Health Infrastructure and the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (HHS-OIG): How Proactive Compliance Improves the Health and Well-Being in AI/AN Communities. Public health capacity encompasses the efficiency of essential services, personnel, systems, and policies that enable sustainable public health activities and infrastructure. The HHS-OIG provided an overview of their commitment to protect the HHS programs from fraud, waste, and abuse so Tribal members critical care important to their well-being. Additionally, Tribal Elders and Youth were also invited to participate in a Youth and Elder Roundtable to discuss the challenges and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. The information gathered through this session will inform an NIHB report of findings on next steps for the future of COVID-19 recovery, endemic, and future pandemic planning.
NIHB is proud to host the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) from across Indian Country and their Annual Poster Session. Each year at NIHB conferences, SDPI meets not only to participate in the conference, but also to organize a photo shoot that includes all programs in attendance to capture an image for their organizational poster. Congress established SDPI in 1997 to address the growing epidemic of diabetes. Since then SDPI has grown into one of the nation's most strategic, comprehensive, and effective effort to combat diabetes.
Each year NIHB chooses a Native artisan to feature and to provide the art that dons the conference bags. This year, Rhonda Shelford Jansen is the featured artist and her work is inspired by her Native Heritage. Born and raised in Homer, Alaska, she is a member of the Ninilchik Tribe as well as a shareholder in the Aleut Corporation and CIRI. Through her painting, Rhonda seeks to represent the strength, beauty, and pride for all Alaska Native Tribes.