State, Territorial, and Tribal Health Officials Discuss Health Equity, Trauma at ASTHO's Annual Meeting

October 01, 2015|1:50 p.m.| ASTHO Staff

“Historical trauma always has to be discussed in the context of persistent trauma,” said Jay Butler, director of the division of public health at the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services yesterday at ASTHO’s annual meeting in Salt Lake City. Butler and his co-panelists, Esther Lizama-Muña, chief executive officer at Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation, Northern Mariana Islands, and Anna Whiting Sorrell, director of operations planning and policy at Tribal Health Department, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, discussed how tribal and territorial health agencies are charged with the special task of working with residents dealing with both long-lasting and current manifestations of trauma.

Muña talked about how the residents of her territory are dealing with both the devastation of Typhoon Soudelor and the historical after-effects of colonization, and how her community’s resilience and partnerships with local organizations made it possible to keep health services going in the typhoon’s aftermath. Whiting Sorrell discussed her personal perspective on how her American Indian community, which historically faced forced migrations and loss of cultural touchstones, now deals with epidemic levels of suicide, alcoholism, teen pregnancy, and other serious public health issues. She recommended that tribes, states, and the federal government partner to improve the health of American Indians to end health disparities and improve health equity nationwide.

For more information on ASTHO’s work on health equity, see the resources below: