Often times I am asked about my work with tribal nations from family, friends, and colleagues and what that work entails. I lead the community engagement efforts with the Collaborative Research Center for American Indian Health (CRCAIH) to help tribes build their research infrastructure. Five tribes, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Tribal Nations Research Group with the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Indians. Each tribal nation approaches how they build their infrastructure and capacity in various ways and have partnered with CRCAIH at different times in the last 6 years. What does that mean and why, is usually the follow up question.
Are you making an impact? Knowing the answer to this question can help assess the value and effectiveness of programs and initiatives focused on improving population health, as well as adjust the program or initiatives to make an impact. Is it important to emphasize the importance and value of using evidence-based findings to guide decision-making. Utilization of evidence-based findings provides a platform to guide development and implementation of programs and initiatives, highlighting what works to address issues in specific populations, such as health equity, childhood obesity, skin cancer prevention in youth, or access to healthy foods in rural communities. However, additional data and information is necessary to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of those programs and initiatives. Indicators provide that additional data and information to help determine if a program or initiative is being implemented as expected and outcomes are being achieved (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2016).
How might a neighborhood improve health? One answer to explore is social-contact design. Environmental cues can encourage social interaction. Over time, frequent social interaction may develop into neighborly support and deeper relationships. People with supportive social ties have lower levels of mortality, better physical health, and improved psychological well-being.
A story is “that one thing happens in consequence of another” (Davidson, 2017). A story consists of a beginning, middle, and ending or is crafted of three elements; plot, character, and moral (Davidson, 2017). Imagine you are immersed in reading an exciting book, where the story is building, and you eagerly read to see how it ends…but your dog gets a hold of your book and proceeds to chew up the last few pages…leaving you wondering how the story ends.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (20118), equitable means “having or exhibiting equity or dealing fairly and equally with all concerned” (2018). In an equitable society everyone would have equal access to goods and services regardless of socio-economic status, gender, race, and the alike. When we look at equity from a health lens, that means that everyone has the opportunity to achieve their highest level of health (Benjamin, 2018). Now, in an ideal world, that would be great, however, since we do not live in one, there is ample opportunity and need to achieve health equity.
Right now, at least 17,000 South Dakotans are living with Alzheimer’s disease. It is the 5th leading cause of death in our state. South Dakota also has the 3rd highest Alzheimer’s death rate in America. The numbers are staggering, and yet South Dakota remains one of just a handful of states that does not have a State Plan on Alzheimer’s and related dementias.