Indian Health Service (IHS) Director's Corner Bloghttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/directorsblog/IHS updates on important issues affecting the Indian Health Service.en-usMeet Phoenix Area Chef Adam Mulletthttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/meet-phoenix-area-chef-adam-mulletthttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/meet-phoenix-area-chef-adam-mullettWednesday, March 22, 2017 ]]>One day, Adam Mullett (Navajo) sat in the cafeteria at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center waiting for his dad’s shift to end. Jeff Parrish, who is the food service director, asked Adam what he did for employment. Adam told him he was in high school and the manager at a fast food restaurant. Jeff then shared that a temporary position was opening soon. Adam jumped at the opportunity.

Chef Adam Mullett encourages patients, staff and visitors to the Phoenix Indian Medical Center to eat healthy.
Chef Adam Mullett encourages patients, staff and visitors to the Phoenix Indian Medical Center to eat healthy.

Adam spent the next two months as a dishwasher in Novaki Dining Hall. Jeff noticed that Adam demonstrated he was a motivated worker from day one. Adam did everything from sweeping, mopping, and delivering trays, to serving as cashier. A year later, Jeff encouraged Adam to consider culinary school. Despite never having seen himself as a chef, Adam accepted the challenge and spent nights and days off studying for courses such as Purchasing, Menu Planning, International Cuisine, Principles and Skills, and more.

When Adam reflects on the experience, he recalls that his supervisors at IHS really rooted for him. Culinary school was an amazing experience for him. He had fun and enjoyed that it was a hands-on learning environment.

Jeff describes Adam and his department as customer-service oriented. Their customers include patients, visitors, staff and even other departments. As the epitome of good customer service, Adam jumps in and helps if there is a disabled customer coming through the lunch line without being told. He worked his way up through the system from dishwasher to chef. He’s a great example for other young people who are trying to figure out what IHS career track they want to take.

Adam shared that what he likes most about his job is the chaos and pressure of the fast-paced kitchen. He truly has a blast and loves his job. In honor of National Nutrition Month, Adam and I want to remind you that healthy food can be absolutely delicious. Additionally, he wants to encourage everyone to eat healthy, live a great lifestyle, and have a great time doing it!

RADM Michael Weahkee (Zuni) is the CEO of the Phoenix Indian Medical Center, leading the largest federally operated IHS hospital in the nation.

Related Content:

Celebrate National Nutrition Month with IHS in March


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IHS Environmental Health and Engineering Leaders Recognizedhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/ihs-environmental-health-and-engineering-leaders-recognizedhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/ihs-environmental-health-and-engineering-leaders-recognizedTuesday, March 21, 2017 ]]>Did you know that environmental health is an important part of the IHS mission? IHS is tasked with identifying the need for sanitation facilities, prioritizing projects to match available appropriated funding, and constructing those facilities and other disease prevention infrastructure such as potable water and waste disposal facilities for American Indian and Alaska Native communities.

The IHS Office of Environmental Health and Engineering recently announced two awardees, IHS employees who went above and beyond to serve American Indian communities. CDR Mike Reed is Environmental Health Specialist of 2016 and LCDR Ryan Clapp is the Engineer of 2016.

Annually the Division of Environmental Health Services recognizes the Environmental Health Specialist of the Year and the Division of Sanitation Facility Construction recognizes the Engineer of the Year.

Presentation of DEHS Environmental Health Specialist of 2016 (L-R: CAPT David McMahon, CDR Mike Reed and RADM Chris Buchanan.)
Presentation of DEHS Environmental Health Specialist of 2016 (L-R: CAPT David McMahon, CDR Mike Reed and RADM Chris Buchanan.)

CDR Mike Reed, District Environmental Health Officer, Sioux City District Office, is the Environmental Health Specialist of 2016.

The Division of Environmental Health Services has recognized an outstanding Environmental Health Specialist of the Year annually since 1993. The award is given to the Environmental Health Specialist representing the DEHS with distinction and, through superior performance, positively impacting the health outcomes of American Indians and Alaskan Natives. Commissioned Corps Officers, Civil Service, tribal employees serving in IHS funded positions, or IHS staff on detail to a tribal organization are eligible.

A few examples of how CDR Reed applied expertise and innovative solutions to prevent health problems in 2016 include:

CDR Reed collaborated with tribal, state, and Service Unit partners to assure mission needs were met and is viewed as a trusted professional by his peers and the population he unselfishly serves.

LCDR Ryan Clapp is the SFC Engineer of 2016.

SFC 2016 Engineer of the Year: Presentation of the Sanitation Facilities Construction Program 2016 Engineer Award (L-R: Roger Slape, Navajo Area SFC Director, LCDR Ryan Clap, Navajo Area Senior Environmental Engineer and RADM Mark Calkins DSFC Director)
SFC 2016 Engineer of the Year: Presentation of the Sanitation Facilities Construction Program 2016 Engineer Award (L-R: Roger Slape, Navajo Area SFC Director, LCDR Ryan Clap, Navajo Area Senior Environmental Engineer and RADM Mark Calkins DSFC Director)

This award, established in 1990, recognizes SFC engineers in the early stages of their career that have demonstrated exemplary work, as evidenced by specific engineering accomplishments.

LCDR Clapp received this award in recognition of his technical expertise, his cooperative attitude, and his continued service to the people of the Navajo Nation by providing access to sanitation facilities that improve quality of life and protect public health. In 2016, LCDR Clapp completed work on six major construction projects that helped provide or maintain access to safe drinking water at over 890 Nation homes. He was a leader for the Navajo Area’s development of electronic as-built construction drawings that improved work efficiency and communication with Nation officials.

In addition, when key staff members transferred out of the Area, LCDR Clapp volunteered to temporarily accept responsibility for office management and supervision of five engineering technicians and one administrative assistant. Despite these personnel challenges, he was able to accelerate construction expenditures for the office while continuing to effectively manage his own construction project workload.

Gary J. Hartz, P.E. leads IHS efforts to provide functional, well maintained health care facilities and staff housing, technical and financial assistance to Tribes on safe water and wastewater systems and a broad range of environmental health and injury prevention activities.

Related Content:

IHS Engineers Recognized at Public Health Service Awards Ceremony

Public and Environmental Health Improves with the First Vacuum Sewer System on the Navajo Nation

World Environmental Health Day


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National Social Work Monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/national-social-work-monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/national-social-work-monthTuesday, March 14, 2017 ]]>Jessica Johnson, a clinical social worker at the IHS Western Oregon Service Unit, provides direct service counseling and prevention services to students at the Bureau of Indian Education, Chemawa Indian Boarding School, and coordinates trauma-informed care efforts within the service unit. Jessica and approximately 177 other social workers across IHS are working with health care providers throughout Indian Country and are making a difference in the lives of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs).

March is National Social Work Month, and the IHS would like to recognize and thank social workers like Jessica and throughout Indian Country for the tremendous work they do.

The primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people, especially the most vulnerable in society. Social workers work daily to help AI/ANs to overcome substance use disorders and mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Social workers provide essential services to IHS patients and strengthen the delivery of quality behavioral health care to ensure positive health outcomes. IHS recognizes social workers as an invaluable resource and supports efforts to recruit, retain and develop AI/AN social workers by partnering with leading educational institutions to provide internship opportunities to social work students. Increasing AI/AN social workers within the Indian health system strengthens the cultural sensitivity of service delivery and creates opportunity for community partnership with IHS facilities.

In recognition of the numerous contributions made by social workers throughout Indian Country, please join us in celebrating March as National Social Work Month.

Miranda Carman is a Public Health Advisor in the IHS Division of Behavioral Health and serves at the Mental Health Lead.  Miranda is a clinical social worker and a citizen of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma.

Related Content:

IHS Announces Pilot Program for Child Trauma-Informed Integrated Care

IHS Announces Three Additional Native Youth Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention Awards

Indian Health Service Partners with Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education to Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services for Native Youth

Indian Health Service Partners with Two Leading Universities on a Behavioral Health Residency Program


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National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/national-colorectal-cancer-awareness-monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/national-colorectal-cancer-awareness-monthThursday, March 9, 2017 ]]>March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the Indian Health Service (IHS) is raising the awareness of colorectal cancer (CRC), a leading cause of cancer deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) men and women. Over the past two decades there has been a decline in the CRC death rate for most racial and ethnic groups, but a recent study revealed that from 1990-2009 there was no decrease in the CRC death rate for AI/AN Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Screening is an effective way to reduce the number of deaths from CRC, since the likelihood of surviving CRC increases greatly when the cancer is detected in its earliest stages. CRC screening is recommended for all average-risk, asymptomatic, 50-75 year old women and men. Multiple CRC screening options are available, including: stool blood tests, stool DNA test, colonoscopy and CT colonography. Providers should discuss with patients the options that are available at their facility, and determine which one is preferred by each patient. The best test is the one that gets done!

The percentage of AI/ANs who are utilizing CRC screening services remains low. According to Government Performance and Results Act or GPRA data, only around 40% of the eligible IHS user population was up-to-date with CRC screening in 2016. While there are often many barriers to screening in AI/AN communities, there are also ways to make it easier for people to get screened. A recent study at three tribal health facilities, for example, demonstrated that CRC screening participation could be significantly increased, compared to usual care, by mailing FIT kits (requiring collection of only one stool sample), along with instructions, a letter from the clinic, and a stamped return envelope, directly to patients’ homes.

80% by 2018 Campaign

The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov is leading a national effort to have 80% of adults ages 50 and older to be screened for CRC by the year 2018. The "80% by 2018" effort is designed to educate and mobilize those who are not getting screened. AI/AN specific colorectal health resources, such as digital stories, radio PSAs, videos, brochures, flip charts, reminder postcards, and more, can be found at the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center's Tribal Colorectal Health Program website Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center's Colorectal Cancer Control Program website Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Donald Haverkamp, MPH, CPH, is an epidemiologist with the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at CDC. As a field assignee in New Mexico, he collaborates with the Indian Health Service Division of Epidemiology and Disease Prevention and various Tribal organizations, implementing strategies and projects designed to increase colorectal cancer screening among American Indian and Alaska Native people.


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IHS Announces Three Additional Native Youth Substance Abuse and Suicide Prevention Awardshttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/ihs-announces-three-additional-native-youth-substance-abuse-and-suicide-prevention-awardshttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/ihs-announces-three-additional-native-youth-substance-abuse-and-suicide-prevention-awardsTuesday, March 7, 2017 ]]>On February 15, the Indian Health Service awarded three additional projects [PDF] under the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative in the Navajo and Phoenix IHS Areas.

In December 2017, IHS reissued the funding opportunity announcement for Navajo, Phoenix, and Tucson areas. Additional MSPI awards announced today will improve Indian health for Native youth.

The announcement of these three additional projects the Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative, Purpose Area 4 (Gen-I), means there is a total of 91 projects. IHS awarded a total of $1,137,131 to the following:

  • Elko Service Unit - Southern Bands Health Clinic
  • Navajo Nation Department of Behavioral Health Services
  • Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah
Native youth will benefit from additional grants in the Navajo and Phoenix IHS Areas.
Native youth will benefit from additional grants in the Navajo and Phoenix IHS Areas.

The national goal of MSPI Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) is to promote early intervention strategies and implement positive youth programming aimed at reducing risk factors for suicidal behavior and substance abuse. The MSPI Generation-Indigenous, or Gen-I program focuses on Native youth, up to and including age 24 through the following four objectives:

  1. Implement evidence-based and practice-based approaches to build resiliency, promote positive development, and increase self-sufficiency behaviors among native youth;
  2. Promote family engagement;
  3. Increase access to prevention activities for youth to prevent methamphetamine use and other substance use disorders that contribute to suicidal behaviors, in culturally appropriate ways; and
  4. Hire additional behavioral health staff specializing in child, adolescent, and family services

Generation Indigenous was launched in December 2014. Gen-I is a Native youth initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunities to succeed. This initiative takes a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach to help improve the lives and opportunities for Native youth.

In 2016, IHS received an additional $10 million for Gen-I with a focus on increasing the capacity of behavioral health staff. IHS announced additional awards that year bringing the total number of projects to 88.

MSPI Successes at Indian Health Service

From 2009 through 2015, MSPI supported over 12,200 individuals entering treatment for methamphetamine abuse; more than 16,560 substance use and mental health disorder encounters via telehealth; over 16,250 professionals and community members trained in suicide crisis response; and more than 690,590 encounters with youth provided as part of evidence-based and practice-based prevention activities.

Read more about the IHS Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Division of Behavioral Health.

Minette C. Wilson, is a public health advisor in the IHS Division of Behavioral Health and serves as the Native youth lead and Behavioral Health Aide program lead. She is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania and Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.

Related Content:

IHS Opens New Youth Regional Treatment Center in California
$1.4 million Available to Tribal Communities for Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention
Indian Health Service Partners with Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education to Increase Access to Behavioral Health Services for Native Youth
IHS Announces New Methamphetamine and Suicide Prevention Initiative Generation-Indigenous Awards


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Celebrate National Nutrition Month with IHS in Marchhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/celebrate-national-nutrition-month-with-ihs-in-marchhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/march2017/celebrate-national-nutrition-month-with-ihs-in-marchWednesday, March 1, 2017 ]]>In recognition of March being National Nutrition Month, we acknowledge that food is more than fuel that nourishes our bodies. It brings people together. It connects us to our family and ancestors.

Our diets and the foods available to us have changed over time, which has contributed to an increase in chronic diseases and other illnesses. Many nutrition efforts in Indian Country have helped address these concerns. Diabetes prevention and treatment programs have made advances in tribal communities, food advocates have built a movement to bring back traditional food ways, and there are more innovative nutrition programs offered throughout the Indian health system.

There is much to be celebrated. There is also more to be done, such as making sure the people we serve have consistent access to nutritious foods. It starts with each of us. When aiming to eat more healthfully, our focus should be on being mindful of the types and quality of foods we eat. We can also be food advocates by helping others get the assistance they need to have enough healthy food.

My Native Plate is an easy way to help your family know how much to eat.
My Native Plate is an easy way to help your family know how much to eat.

Lead the Way by Making Healthy Food Choices

Eating healthfully includes consuming:

  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy sources of protein (like plant-based foods, beans, or lean meats)
  • Good sources of fats (like nuts, seeds, fish, avocados, or vegetable oils)
  • Whole grains (like wild rice or quinoa)
  • Water, rather than sweetened drinks
  • Foods that are minimally processed

Nutritious foods like berries, nuts, seeds, wild rice, native plants, corn, squash, and other indigenous foods should also be eaten regularly, if available.

Be a Food Advocate in Your Indian Community

Challenges exist that prevent people from eating healthfully all of the time. Things like access to healthy foods, family or work obligations, stress level, finding the time to prepare meals, and even one's cooking experience are common issues that can keep someone from eating healthy. Understanding these challenges is important when acting as a food advocate. Food advocates can be registered dietitian nutritionists, dietetic technicians, nurses, diabetes educators, local food producers, wellness program staff, and anyone with an interest in helping others access healthful food.

Nutrition Resources for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Kelli Begay, an enrolled member of the Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, is a registered dietitian nutritionist. In her role as the Nutrition Consultant for the IHS Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention, Mrs. Begay works with food and nutrition advocates on improving the nutrition status of American Indian and Alaska Native people

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IHS Engineers Recognized at Public Health Service Awards Ceremonyhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/february2017/ihs-engineers-recognized-at-public-health-service-awards-ceremonyhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/february2017/ihs-engineers-recognized-at-public-health-service-awards-ceremonyTuesday, February 21, 2017 ]]>Two of the Indian Health Service’s many dedicated and talented engineers were recognized during the United States Public Health Service Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov Engineer Category Awards Ceremony.

The annual award ceremony coincides with National Engineers Week Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov to recognize the role of U.S. Public Health Service engineers who create safer, healthier and more productive environments in which to live and work.

Capt. Steven Raynor, acting deputy director of the IHS Headquarters Division of Facilities Planning and Construction, was named IHS Engineer of the Year for his work in planning direct service health care facility construction. He analyzes population demographics to determine the required number of medical exam rooms, dental chairs, and spaces for pharmacy, imaging, wellness, eye care, audiology, etc. for new healthcare facilities. His contribution is vital in providing state-of-the-art facilities to meet the healthcare needs of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Capt. Steven Raynor, Acting Deputy Director of the IHS Headquarters Division of Facilities Planning and Construction, receives the IHS Engineer of the Year Award from Rear Adm. Randall Gardner.
Capt. Steven Raynor, Acting Deputy Director of the IHS Headquarters Division of Facilities Planning and Construction, receives the IHS Engineer of the Year Award from Rear Adm. Randall Gardner.

Lt. Melissa de Vera, IHS Bemidji Area field engineer, received the Rear Adm. Jerrold M. Michael Award, for her service, demonstrated leadership and outreach that has impacted the next generation of US Public Health Service Commissioned Corps engineers through her role leading the Engineer Professional Advisory Committee Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov (EPAC) Connectors and through her informal mentoring of other young engineers. She has supported collaborative learning and engagement that has improved the work of other engineers in her office and the delivery of the public health program where she is stationed.

Lt. Melissa de Vera, IHS Bemidji Area field engineer, receives the Rear Adm. Jerrold M. Michael Award from Rear Adm. Randall Gardner. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and dedication to the education, training and/or mentoring of present and future USPHS engineers.
Lt. Melissa de Vera, IHS Bemidji Area field engineer, receives the Rear Adm. Jerrold M. Michael Award from Rear Adm. Randall Gardner.

USPHS engineers Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov design, construct and provide technical assistance to local operators of water supply and waste disposal systems serving Native American homes and communities. They also manage a wide array of facility design, constructions, renovation, operation and maintenance activities in Indian country and at PHS research/laboratory and public health centers.

Rear Adm. Randall Gardner is the chief engineer of the United States Public Health Service Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov and works for the Indian Health Service Headquarters Office of Environmental Health and Engineering. He is a graduate of Howard University and the George Washington University.


Related Content:

Public and Environmental Health Improves with the First Vacuum Sewer System on the Navajo Nation

IHS and Navajo Nation dedicate new Arizona rural hospital

IHS/Tribal team recognized for emergency water connection in Tucson Area

Engineer of the Year recognized


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IHS Celebrates National Children's Dental Health Monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/february2017/ihs-celebrates-national-children-s-dental-health-monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/february2017/ihs-celebrates-national-children-s-dental-health-monthTuesday, February 14, 2017 ]]>Each February, IHS, tribal and urban dental programs celebrate National Children's Dental Health Month (NCDHM). The American Dental Association held the first national observance of Children's Dental Health Day on February 8, 1949, and in 1981 it was extended to a month-long observance to show the importance of children's oral health.

The theme for the 2017 NCDHM is "Choose Tap Water for a Sparkling Smile." The ADA has developed posters and promotional materials Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov that adopt this theme and encourage parents and children to avoid sugary drinks, which can cause cavities, and to drink tap water, which may contain cavity-fighting fluoride.

The program also encourages children to eat "healthy for a healthy smile" and to brush their teeth for two minutes twice daily - "2min2x!"

Despite the efforts of 320 individual dental programs and almost 500 individual IHS and tribal dental clinics, American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) children have less access to dental care than the general U.S. population. Not surprisingly, then, is that AI/AN children suffer more dental disease. For example, AI/AN preschool children ages 2-5 have four times more decayed or filled teeth than U.S. white children and more than double that of the next highest minority, U.S. Hispanic children.

In response, IHS and tribal dental programs all over the country are prioritizing children's dental health in February. Many programs will make special efforts to provide community-based services such as dental screenings, fluoride varnish applications, dental sealant applications, and oral health education in elementary and middle schools, Head Start centers, at health fairs and at other community events.

The IHS Division of Oral Health has created a series of educational presentations that can be shown in patient waiting rooms and at community events. These presentations, which are available to dental staff on the login-accessible IHS Dental Portal, will also be sent out through various e-mail distribution lists to all IHS, tribal, and urban dental programs. Presentations include:

  • Are you prepared for a dental emergency?
  • Will fluoride varnish help my teeth?
  • Dental Sealants
  • Sippy Cups
  • Teens and Oral Health

In addition, the IHS Division of Oral Health Continuing Dental Education Program will focus on children's health in February with four national webinars on early childhood caries, dental erosion in children's teeth, and overall management of pediatric dental patients. For more information on these continuing education opportunities, please send an e-mail to IHSCDECoordinator@ihs.gov. For more information on NCDHM, please go to http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Capt. Timothy Ricks, DMD, MPH, is the deputy director in the IHS Division of Oral Health and the IHS Continuing Dental Education Coordinator.


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IHS Highlights Importance of Vaccination and Regular Cancer Screenings to Prevent Cervical Cancerhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/january2017/ihs-highlights-importance-of-vaccination-and-regular-cancer-screenings-to-prevent-cervical-cancerhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/january2017/ihs-highlights-importance-of-vaccination-and-regular-cancer-screenings-to-prevent-cervical-cancerTuesday, January 31, 2017 ]]>Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a common virus that can affect both boys and girls. HPV causes a variety of cancers, including most cervical cancers. In 2013, cervical cancer killed over 4,217 women. It is a significant health issue for all women, but especially for American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) women. Studies have shown that from 1999-2009, AI/AN women were at a higher risk for developing cervical cancer Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov than white women. 1

The best way to prevent HPV, infection and HPV related-cancers is by getting the HPV vaccine. The HPV vaccine is recommended for all boys and girls 11-12 years of age, and can be given through age 26. The HPV vaccine is a series of either two or three shots depending on the age of the adolescent when they start the series. For more information on the HPV vaccine schedule visit Use of a 2-Dose Schedule for Human Papillomavirus Vaccination Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Despite this recommendation, coverage with the first dose of HPV vaccine Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov lags behind coverage with the Tdap and meningococcal vaccines, which are also recommended for 11-12 year olds. At the end of fiscal year 2016, 82% of IHS adolescent patients between the ages of 13 – 17 years received their first HPV vaccine, compared to 92% who received the Tdap vaccine. Fifty-six percent of adolescent IHS patients received all three doses of HPV vaccine, which means 44%, or 30,465 patients, did not receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine. 2 That’s a large number of adolescents who are now at risk for developing HPV related cancers.

The second step in prevention for cervical cancer is staying up to date on regular cervical cancer screenings. When cervical cancer is found early, it is highly treatable and associated with long survival and a good quality of life.3  After turning 21, every woman should be seeing her healthcare provider for regular Pap screenings. The Pap test detects cell changes on your cervix that in time may develop into cervical cancer. Patients should discuss the test results with their healthcare provider so they are aware of what they mean and when their next pap test should be.

IHS is proud to have dedicated staff in the field working to improve HPV vaccination rates. From 2013-2015 the IHS immunization program partnered with 10 sites interested in undertaking an initiative to improve HPV vaccine coverage Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov. Using multi-faceted approaches, which included expanding reminder recall efforts, conducting community education, and implementing standing orders to establish nurse only and walk in immunization clinics to increase access to HPV vaccines, participating sites were able to increase coverage with the first dose of HPV vaccine an average of 24% over a two-year period, and increase coverage with three doses of HPV vaccine by an average of 22%. For more information on one facility’s experience, please see the recorded webinar here– CMEs and CEUS are available!

IHS Glaucoma Awareness Month

References:

  1. Watson, M., et al., (2014). Cervical Cancer Incidence and Mortality among American Indian and Alaska Native Women, 1999-2009. American Journal of Public Health, Supplement 3 2014:104, S415-S422
  2. Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2014). How Many Cancers are Linked with HPV Each Year? See the CDC’s cervical cancer statistics page Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.
  3. Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). See the CDC’s cervical cancer informational page Exit Disclaimer: You Are Leaving www.ihs.gov.

Amy Groom is a Public Health Advisor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and has served as the Immunization Program Manager for the Indian Health Service since 2001. She serves as a subject matter expert for IHS and CDC on immunization issues that impact American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and provides technical support to IHS to ensure AI/AN people have access to all recommended vaccines.


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National Glaucoma Awareness Monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/january2017/national-glaucoma-awareness-monthhttps://www.ihs.gov/newsroom/ihs-blog/january2017/national-glaucoma-awareness-monthFriday, January 27, 2017 ]]>January is National Glaucoma Awareness month, an important time to learn about this sight-stealing disease. Glaucoma is a condition in which elevated eye pressure may damage the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.  Damage to this nerve may lead to permanent vision loss. 

Glaucoma often goes undetected because it is a painless condition. Vision loss may progress slowly and not be noticed until the condition is advanced.  This is why it is so important to have a screening eye examination. If caught early, treatment may be as simple as using a medicated eye drop to control eye pressure. In this way, vision loss may be prevented. If damage has already occurred, treatment may prevent further damage from occurring. 

IHS Glaucoma Awareness Month

Individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, hypertension, or those with a family history of glaucoma are at higher risk for glaucoma. Near-sightedness may increase the risk of glaucoma as well. At the Indian Health Service, we recommend that American Indians and Native Alaskans over 50 years of age have an eye examination to screen for glaucoma.

For patients diagnosed with glaucoma, regular eye clinic follow-up is needed to ensure that the eye pressure is controlled. It is important to understand that only an eye doctor can measure eye pressure, screen for glaucoma, and determine which treatment is appropriate for you.

Don’t be blindsided by glaucoma. Schedule an eye examination, today!

Dr. Dara Shahon is the Chief of Ophthalmology at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center. She is certified by the American Board of Ophthalmology and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. Prior to joining the Indian Health Service in 2015, Dr. Shahon practiced general ophthalmology in Scottsdale, Arizona.


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