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NIHB postpones Tribal Public Health Summit

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Due to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Board of Directors and CEO of the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) announced March 11 that the 2020 National Tribal Public Health Summit, scheduled for March 17-20 in Omaha, Nebraska, has been being postponed to a later time during 2020.

NIHB said in a press release:

“NIHB, as a Tribal health organization, believes that we have a commitment to safeguard the health of all Tribal members, and that postponing the Summit to a date later in the year, could help to keep our Peoples healthy. This decision also recognizes that Tribal public health staff and Tribal leaders are committed to being available within their own communities where they may be needed to address this outbreak locally.

“In addition, Tribal communities are the most vulnerable and least resourced to address a public health outbreak such as the COVID-19 virus. Tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that increase the risk of a more serious COVID-19-related illness. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, these conditions include (but are not limited to) heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Among our Peoples who are 8 years of age and over, rates of coronary heart disease are 1.5 times the rate for Whites, while rates of diabetes among our Peoples are nearly three times the general population. Studies have shown that American Indians and Alaska Natives are also at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections, and in certain regions of the country are twice as likely as the general population to become infected and hospitalized with pneumonia, bronchitis, and influenza. These vulnerability factors were key in informing our decision to postpone the NIHB National Tribal Public Health Summit.”

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