The main health challenges faced by both American Indians and Alaskan natives include; an underfunded medical program, inadequate health professionals, and strong cultural beliefs.
The government initiated public health insurance known as Indian Health Service (IHS) to serve the American natives. However, the program is underfunded, hampering the provision of adequate care. Andy Joseph Jr., a member of the Colville Indian tribe, notes that the program can only allow referrals when the patient’s needs are critical, such as a patient losing a body part (Ackerman). Furthermore, the number of health professionals in the program is insufficient. The program’s director, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, contends that the healthcare practitioners are few in the IHS insurance (Ackerman). As such, most healthcare professionals are overwhelmed by the workload.
The two communities also have strong cultural beliefs that are misaligned with modern medical interventions. As a result, most patients prefer to be treated by tribal/traditional doctors, and hence, they fail to seek healthcare services from verified healthcare institutions. Therefore, the main step in incorporating culture into healthcare is by initiating training for healthcare professionals to interact with community leaders to enable the former to learn about the communities’ cultural beliefs. The approach can use a multicultural evaluation in identifying cultural-based factors that influence health outcomes. Moreover, the evaluation will help identify target populations for assessing the communities’ health needs. The use of a multicultural evaluation is critical in establishing cultural practices that promote healthcare among the two communities, as well as how the communities’ beliefs can be incorporated in healthcare to promote culturally competent care.
Ackerman, Tom. “Native Americans face limit to healthcare access.” Aljazeera. https://youtube.be/wxhQz4z9sN0 Accessed 5th August 2020