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Indian Health Service Physician Receives 2006 American Medical Association Award

Christopher Allan Percy, M.D., a physician with the Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has been selected to receive the American Medical Association’s (AMA) 2006 Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Member of the Federal Executive Branch in Career Public Service. This award is one of the most prestigious honors extended to elected officials and career government employees for outstanding endeavors that advance public health.

The award, named for the founder of the AMA, will be presented to Dr. Percy at a banquet in Washington, D.C. on March 14, 2006, in conjunction with the AMA’s National Advocacy Conference (NAC), at which the AMA focuses on national health issues, and legislative and regulatory processes.

In 1986, Dr. Percy joined the Indian Health Service as a family physician and health promotion coordinator for the Shiprock Service Unit, which serves over 50,000 people in the northeastern part of the Navajo Nation. He is currently the director of community health services at the Northern Navajo Medical Center (NNMC) in Shiprock, New Mexico and the chief consultant for health promotion for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

Under his leadership, the Navajo Health Promotion Program changed from a clinical and disease-based program into a wellness-focused program based on empowerment and traditional Navajo philosophy, in which community members set their own health priorities and design local wellness solutions. Through partnerships with local schools, community groups, and tribal agencies, this program has improved individual, family, and community health for the more than 250,000 people of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Health Promotion Program is based on this positive model of wellness involving a variety of innovative programs and projects.

In 2003, Dr. Percy’s energy and commitment were recognized by Dr. Charles W. Grim, IHS Director, when Dr. Percy was asked to chair a group to strengthen prevention efforts for the entire agency – including federal, tribal, and urban health programs. Working closely with tribal leadership from across the country, the results of this effort so far include sharing best and promising prevention practices, the growth of the national “Just Move It” physical activity promotion campaign to include hundreds of Native communities, the establishment of a Healthy Native Communities Fellowship, a successful Partnerships for Prevention Summit, and the sharing of community wisdom through a series of regional Community Wellness Champion Forums.

In the nearly 20 years Dr. Percy has worked with the Navajo Nation, he has been recognized with numerous federal, tribal, and national awards. Among these awards are the IHS National Director’s Award, the National Indian Health Board’s Impact Award for the “Just Move It” Campaign, the American Journal of Health Promotion’s Robert F. Allen Symbol of H.O.P.E. National Health Promotion Award, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Program Evaluation Award for Community Health.

Dr. Percy received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1983. He earned a BA degree in molecular biology and international community development from the University of Wisconsin in 1979.