Seven Facts You Need to Know About Tribal Epidemiology Centers
by Ellen Provost, MD, MS, and Katherine Leinberger
Did you know that there are 12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) in the United States, serving approximately 4 million people? TECs aim to go beyond just eliminating health disparities for American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. With funding from the Indian Health Service (IHS), TECs were first established in 1996 amid growing concern about the lack of adequate public health surveillance and health data/information for indigenous populations. Most TECs were established to serve their IHS Administrative Areas and one TEC serves Urban Indian Organizations. Together, these TECs serve Indian Country nationwide. Here are seven facts about TECs: 7 Facts tribal epidemiology
1. The mission of each TEC is to improve the health of American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) populations by identifying and understanding health problems and disease risks, strengthening public health capacity, and developing solutions for disease prevention and control;
2. TECs have the authority to conduct public health activities on behalf of AI/AN Tribes and peoples as a result of legislation which granted TECs public health authority from the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA). IHCIA was permanently reauthorized in 2010;
3. TECs provide technical assistance and training to Tribes, Tribal Organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations (T/TO/UIOs) in their areas. 7 Facts tribal epidemiology
4. There are 573 federally recognized Tribes nationally with each TEC serving between 1 and 229 Tribes directly or through their tribal health organization. Each TEC strives to meet the data and information needs of their areas, as well as addressing acute and chronic epidemiologic services;
5. TECs rely mainly on grant funding. The core funding began with the IHS and has expanded over time with grants from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, Office of Minority Health, and others;
6. TECs provide trainings to build tribal public health capacity. Some past training topics include grant writing, grants management, program evaluation, project management, and data visualization. These trainings strive to build tribal public health capacity and communities of practice for knowledge-sharing; 7 Facts tribal epidemiology
7. TECs produce and disseminate reports and other publications for Tribal and non-Tribal entities, to monitor health on the Tribal, local, and regional level. Many of these publications are available through each TEC’s website or accessible via the national TEC website. The information on these documents can be used by leaders, decision makers, planners, and researchers.
Now that you know what TECs are all about, find more information at https://tribalepicenters.org/.
- Tribal Epidemiology Centers: Advancing Public Health in Indian Country for Over 20 Years
- Improving Tribal Nation–Specific Mortality Numerators in the South and Eastern Tribes
- A Comparative Analysis of Telephone and In-Person Survey Administration for Public Health Surveillance in Rural American Indian Communities
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Dr. Ellen Provost has served the Alaska Tribal Health System for over 25 years, and has been Director of the Alaska Native Epidemiology Center since 2005. She arrived in Bethel in 1990 to work with YKHC as a Commissioned Officer in the US Public Health Service. She is a physician specializing in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, and has an MS in Biomedical Informatics.
Cama’i (Hello in Alutiiq), I am Katherine Leinberger, a summer intern in the Epidemiology Center at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium working through the First Alaskans Institute. I am Sugpiaq from Ouzinkie, AK, on Kodiak Island. I graduated from Mount Edgecumbe High School in 2016, and I am currently an undergraduate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, majoring in Secondary Education and English. My goal is to become a high school English teacher in rural Alaska and teach our Native youth to be curious, informed, and prepare them for the world opening before them.
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