PORTLAND, OR--The 40th annual AAIP (Association of American Indian Physicians) conference is being held in Portland, Oregon this week, as more than 200 Native American doctors focus on ways to reduce high death rates afflicting tribes across the country.
The death rate for Native Americans from tuberculosis and alcoholism is six times as high as that of the general population, and from diabetes, it is nearly three times as high, the Association of American Indian Physicians reports.
The association will be looking for ways to battle those and other health disparities at its meeting, which runs through Sunday at the Red Lion Hotel at Jantzen Beach in Portland.
"American Indians in the United States are dying in large numbers from diseases they shouldn't have to die from," said Dr. R. Dale Walker, president of the group and professor of psychiatry and preventive medicine at Oregon Health & Science University, in a prepared statement.
"We are bringing together some of the best minds in American Indian health care – and top U.S. health leaders – to talk about how to address that crisis."
"This year's theme 'Shared Visions: Blending Tradition, Culture, and Health Care for Our Native Communites' will join our mission of blending western medicine and Native traditional medicine." said Dr. Walker. "We are hoping to make this year's meeting special for all who attend."
The doctors will be discussing chronic diseases, sudden infant death syndrome, depression, heart attacks, diabetes and other health problems that hit Native Americans harder than most other racial and ethnic groups. They also will be looking at exercise and prevention and the use of traditional Native American healing practices.
Members of the Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde from Oregon will canoe ashore on the Columbia River near the conference hotel to welcome the doctors in a Sunset Drum and Music welcoming ceremony Thursday evening. The doctors also will take a break to join a Pow Wow Saturday evening.