Vice President Harris spoke to over 700 Tribal leaders, practitioners, researchers, and policy experts who were looking to mobilize in the arenas of public, behavioral, mental, maternal, and environmental health. The summit highlights emerging, promising, best, and evidenced-based practices, developed by Tribes for Tribes and Tribal advocates. NIHB has worked tirelessly on numerous Indian health care issues including American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) maternal mortality and are pleased Vice President Harris is in sync on the matter of protecting our mothers and offering a healthier brighter future for AI/ANs.
“Native maternal health must be elevated as a national priority,” Vice President Harris proclaimed as she spoke to the need for culturally competent care throughout Indian Country. She encouraged research at minority institutes including Tribal serving institutes to study the social determinants of health. Importantly, Vice President Harris acknowledged the need to invest more in the Indian Health Service (IHS) and expand essential post partem coverage to women. She ended with, “There is more work to do together; we must fight for a better future, a future in which every woman has access to the health care she needs.” NIHB stands ready to work with the Administration and the nation to address these critical issues.
NIHB is all too aware of the staggering statistics. Specifically, AI/AN women have a pregnancy-related maternal mortality rate of 28.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the rate for non-Hispanic White women is 13.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Pre- and postnatal care can prevent and address health concerns during a high-risk pregnancy for both the mother and her infant, however this care is not accessible to many AI/AN women.
Adverse maternal health outcomes for AI/AN women occur at an unacceptably high rate. AI/AN people make up 2.9 percent of the total U.S. population, but AI/AN women have the second highest rate of maternal mortality- and are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related issue compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Data has helped drive the need to further include mothers, the Creator’s sacred vessels of life and the carriers of our future, in the work NIHB does. TPHS 2022 featured The Tribal Led Maternal Mortality Review Committee Institute - Current Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities to Strengthen Tribal Maternal Mortality Prevention, which highlighted NIHB’s work over the past couple years on an AI/AN maternal mortality prevention project to understand the part that Tribal-led Maternal Mortality Review Committees can play in AI/AN maternal mortality prevention, and in effort to bring awareness to Tribal maternal health.
Established by the Tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes, NIHB seeks to reinforce Tribal sovereignty, strengthen Tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our People.