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News Release

National Indian Health Board

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) was honored to have Vice President Kamala Harris who provided a video message on the ongoing desperate outcomes of Native women, their maternal health journey, and what she and the administration are doing to address it during the National Tribal Public Health Summit (TPHS) 2022.

Vice President Harris spoke to over 700 tribal leaders, practitioners, researchers, and policy experts who were looking to mobilize in the arenas of public, behavioral, mental, maternal, and environmental health. The summit highlights emerging, promising, best, and evidenced-based practices, developed by tribes for tribes and tribal advocates. National Indian Health Board has worked tirelessly on numerous Indian health care issues including American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) maternal mortality and are pleased Vice President Harris is in sync on the matter of protecting our mothers and offering a healthier brighter future for American Indian/Alaska Natives.

“Native maternal health must be elevated as a national priority,” Vice President Harris proclaimed as she spoke to the need for culturally competent care throughout Indian Country. She encouraged research at minority institutes including tribal serving institutes to study the social determinants of health. Importantly, Vice President Harris acknowledged the need to invest more in the Indian Health Service (IHS) and expand essential post partem coverage to women. She ended with, “There is more work to do together; we must fight for a better future, a future in which every woman has access to the health care she needs.” National Indian Health Board stands ready to work with the Administration and the nation to address these critical issues.

National Indian Health Board is all too aware of the staggering statistics. Specifically, American Indian/Alaska Native women have a pregnancy-related maternal mortality rate of 28.3 deaths per 100,000 live births, while the rate for non-Hispanic White women is 13.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. Pre- and postnatal care can prevent and address health concerns during a high-risk pregnancy for both the mother and her infant, however this care is not accessible to many American Indian/Alaska Native women.

On Monday, May 9, National Indian Health Board sent a letter to Vice President Harris praising her Call to Action to Reduce Maternal Mortality and Morbidity and informing her National Indian Health Board is prepared to work with her office in its efforts. Her remarks as a special guest speaker during the National Tribal Public Health Summit 2022 today directly addressed her Call to Action and the Maternal CARE Act.

Adverse maternal health outcomes for American Indian/Alaska Native women occur at an unacceptably high rate. American Indian/Alaska Native people make up 2.9 percent of the total U.S. population, but American Indian/Alaska Native women have the second highest rate of maternal mortality — and are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related issue compared to their non-Hispanic White counterparts. Data has helped drive the need to further include mothers, the Creator’s sacred vessels of life and the carriers of our future, in the work National Indian Health Board does. National Indian Health Board 2022 featured The Tribal Led Maternal Mortality Review Committee Institute - Current Practices, Challenges, and Opportunities to Strengthen Tribal Maternal Mortality Prevention, which highlighted National Indian Health Board’s work over the past couple years on an American Indian/Alaska Native maternal mortality prevention project to understand the part that Tribal-led Maternal Mortality Review Committees can play in American Indian/Alaska Native maternal mortality prevention, and in effort to bring awareness to tribal maternal health.

National Indian Health Board’s National Tribal Public Health Summit 2022 continues throughout the week with action packed plenary sessions, workshops, roundtables, and Inter-Tribal World Cafe on Health Equity. To RSVP to a session, special event or schedule an interview, please contact Janee Andrews at jandrews@nihb.org. All media is required present credentials. Please visit https://2022tphs.us2.pathable.com/.

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About National Indian Health Board

Established by the tribes to advocate as the united voice of federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, National Indian Health Board seeks to reinforce tribal sovereignty, strengthen tribal health systems, secure resources, and build capacity to achieve the highest level of health and well-being for our people.

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