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July 19, 2007      

Training Institute to Address Health Disparities Among Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous health workers from around the world will attend a first-of-its kind public health institute from July 23-27, 2007 at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to explore common means to overcome major health challenges that threaten their cultures and communities. Participants to the inaugural Indigenous Summer Research Institute will include indigenous peoples from New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States representing 25 tribes and indigenous groups. Faculty from Johns Hopkins, the University of Alberta, University of Victoria, University of Northern British Columbia, Blue Quills First Nations College, University of Manitoba, Dartmouth Medical School, Dalhousie University, National Aboriginal Health Organization and Black Hills and the Bloomberg School’s Center for American Indian Health will guide the institute.

“Indigenous populations shoulder the largest burden of health disparities of any racial or ethnic group in the world,” said Mathuram Santosham, MBBS, MPH, professor and director of Bloomberg School’s Center for American Indian Health. “These disparities are largely the result of historical, social and behavioral forces and can be effectively addressed through evidence-based and culturally competent public health interventions. But such interventions are best developed from within indigenous communities themselves.”

There is a paucity of indigenous professionals trained in public health sciences and interventions research. Recognizing the need for skilled indigenous public health professionals, the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, in partnership with the United States Indian Health Service, Health Canada, and University of Alberta School of Public Health, designed this first institute. The organizers plan to hold annual institutes that will alternate between the United States and Canada to advance indigenous health through an effort led by emerging indigenous scholars.

“The ultimate goal is to support indigenous scholars in designing culturally appropriate strategies to overcome the gross health inequalities that remain among indigenous populations,” said Cathie Frazier, training director for the Indigenous Summer Research Institute at the Center for American Indian Health. Frazier is also a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

“This inaugural Indigenous Summer Research Institute holds great promise for addressing the social determinants of health that challenge all our Indigenous populations and helps the Indian Health Service advance the new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Diplomacy Priority,” said Charles Grim, DDS, MHSA, director of the Indian Health Service (IHS). The IHS has memorandums of understanding with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Health Canada.

This first indigenous institute at Johns Hopkins is sponsored through a joint partnership with NIH Fogarty International Center, Health Canada, Indian Health Service, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Alberta School of Public Health. For additional information contact the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health in Baltimore, Maryland or visit our website at www.jhsph.edu/caih/training.

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health was established in 1991 in partnership with Southwestern Tribes. The Center currently trains and employs more than 60 American Indian outreach workers from tribes across the country, and provides scholarship support each year to over 40 American Indian and Alaska Native scholars to public health institutes and graduate and doctoral programs at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

For more information, contact Olivia Sloan, Training and Scholarship Program Coordinator for the Center for American Indian Health at (410) 955-6931 or osloan@jhsph.edu.

Public Affairs media contacts for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health: Kenna L. Lowe or Tim Parsons at 410-955-6878 or paffairs@jhsph.edu.