Addiction Sameness

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Public health expert: American Indians cannot be ignored in discussions of ethnic health disparities | syracuse.com

Public health expert: American Indians cannot be ignored in discussions of ethnic health disparities | syracuse.com: "
Even though alcoholism, diabetes and other diseases kill American Indians at much higher rates than other minority groups, the disparity is often ignored because American Indians account for less than 2 percent of the population, Bird said."


This article was so well-written, it was impossible to edit.  Instead I left many links back to the author to be sure he is credited with the writing of the article.

Public health expert: American Indians cannot be ignored in discussions of ethnic health disparities | syracuse.com:


Public health expert: American Indians cannot be ignored in discussions of ethnic health disparities
Published: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 4:10 PM Updated: Wednesday, October 12, 2011, 4:40 PM
By James T. Mulder / The Post-Standard

"Michael E. Bird has spent much of his career in public health shining a light on health problems that devastated his family and many other American Indians.

Bird, the first Native American to serve as the president of the American Public Health Association, visited Syracuse University today to give a talk about American Indian health disparities. The free lecture, open to the public, is at 6 p.m. in Room 001 of the Life Sciences Building."

Even though alcoholism, diabetes and other diseases kill American Indians at much higher rates than other minority groups, the disparity is often ignored because American Indians account for less than 2 percent of the population, Bird said.

Bird said he’s battled with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other groups to include American Indians along with blacks and Hispanics in discussions of and research into ethnic health disparities.

“Any discussion about populations that have been marginalized has to be about all of us or none of us,” Bird said.

Bird, 59, is a Santo Domingo-San Juan Pueblo Indian from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has master’s degrees in social work and public health, and worked for many years for the Indian Health Service, an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The American Public Health Association, the world’s oldest organization of public health officials, elected him president in 2001. He’s now working as a consultant to Kewa Pueblo tribal officials in New Mexico, helping them develop a tribally owned and directed health center.

He and other delegates of the American Public Health Association have been invited to the White House later this month.

Bird jokingly said a fitting title to his life story would be: “From the outhouse to the White House.”

Bird grew up in a poor family. His mother had a seventh grade education and was 17 when she gave birth to him. His father was an alcoholic who died of cirrhosis. That family dysfunction steered him to a career in social work, then public health.

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if it were not for that experience,” Bird said. “I understand what it’s like to have that hurt and pain, but I’ve learned not to be overwhelmed by it, to control it and direct it.”

American Indians and Alaska Natives die at higher rates than other American from tuberculosis (500 percent higher), alcoholism (514 percent higher), diabetes (177 percent higher), car accidents and other unintentional injuries (140 percent higher), homicide (92 percent higher) and suicide (82 percent higher), according to the federal government.

Bird said the disparities are the consequences of Native American being removed from their ancestral lands, racism, poverty and other factors.

Despite the statistics, Bird said he sees encouraging signs.

Many tribes like his own are taking control of their health centers to improve services. The Urban Indian Health Institute is doing research to focus more attention on the health needs of American Indians who live in urban communities, he said.

Bird said he was encouraged when the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in 2007 which affirmed the equality of the world’s more than 300 million indigenous people.

“It’s not legally binding, but it provides visibility to issues faced by indigenous populations all over the world who share the same socioeconomic deficits of high morbidity, high mortality and high incarceration,” he said.

Even though he considers tobacco use a major health problem, Bird sees cigarette sales as a necessary evil for the Onondaga Nation  and many other Indian reservations.

If the United States had kept its promises to Indian people to provide adequate health services, education and many other benefits in exchange for their lands, reservations would not need to sell cigarettes or operate casinos, he said.

“It’s sort of like being in the middle of a lake and there’s a storm coming,” Bird said. “If those are the only oars you have, you are going to use them.”



Related topics: Syracuse University Michael E. Bird

 Submitted photo
Michael E. Bird, a national expert on Native American public health, visited Syracuse University Wednesday.







Disparity

Even though alcoholism, diabetes and other diseases kill American Indians at much higher rates than other minority groups, the disparity is often ignored because American Indians account for less than 2 percent of the population, Bird said.

Imagine

A wise man changes his mind, a fool never”
- Spanish Proverb quotes


The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
-Carl Sagan


“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
- Albert Einstein


“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
- Dr. Carl Sagan

Fundamentalism

“A celibate clergy is an especially good idea, because it tends to suppress any hereditary propensity toward fanaticism.”
- Dr. Carl Sagan


“A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge.”
- Dr. Carl Sagan



“Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.”
- Dr. Carl Sagan