National Indian Health Board and Public Health

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The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is committed to advocating on behalf of all Tribal Governments and American Indian/Alaska Natives while: promoting healthy practices; preventing diseases and injuries; providing basic resources and infrastructure to Tribes; and researching and developing tribal, local, state, and national health policy.

Public Health in Indian Country Fact Sheet (PDF)

What is Public Health?

Public Health is the science of protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, and research for disease and injury prevention.

While health care systems (like the Indian Health Service hospitals and clinics) serve the individual patient, PUBLIC HEALTH serves OUR Community.

Public health professionals analyze the effect on health of genetics, personal choice and the environment in order to develop programs that protect the health of your family and community.

Many professionals are part of our tribal Public Health system—everyone from health education teachers and nutritionists to emergency personnel and tribal police officers.

Overall, public health is concerned with protecting the health of entire populations. These populations can be as small as a local neighborhood, or as big as a country or Tribe.

In Public Health, everyone plays a role when they are helping to keep our Native communities safe, clean and free of disease.

Why Public Health is Important to Indian Country?

A healthy Native community gets sick less frequently and spends less money on health care; this means better economic productivity and an improved quality of life for all of Indian Country. Statistics show that Indian Country continues to lag far behind other communities in basic resources and services. This means our communities are more vulnerable to increased health risks and sickness. We can overcome these barriers by supporting and advancing our Public Health programs in our communities.

Health Updates

Announcing NCEH/ATSDR Office of Tribal Affairs Website

July 12, 2011

The Office of Tribal Affairs for the National Center for Environmental Health / Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has updated its website. The site features NCEH/ATSDR Tribal Activities, Resources, Upcoming Events, Funding Opportunities, and more.

Visit the Office of Tribal Affairs website at:

National Call for Tribal Input:
Developing Standards of Public Health in Indian Country


The Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) and the National Indian Health Board (NIHB) have partnered in a national effort to improve public health practice in Indian Country. PHAB is developing a national voluntary public health accreditation program for Tribal, state, local, and territorial health departments that will launch in 2011.

Public health accreditation is a process that will measure the degree to which public health departments meet nationally recognized standards. As the national public health accrediting body, PHAB recognizes the unique and critical role that Tribal governments have in developing the accreditation program.

The National Call for Tribal Input

NIHB is hosting the National Call for Tribal Input to review the draft Tribal Public Health Accreditation Standards and Measures. The six-week period for public review and comment will open on December 7th 2010 and close on January 14th, 2011.

How to Participate

  • Draft Tribal Public Health Accreditation Standards and Measures (PDF).  
    Click Here to download document
  • Guide to Standards and Measures Interpretation Document Review (PDF)
    Click Here to download document
  • Tribal Public Health Department Standards and Measures Feedback Form (Word).
    Click Here to download document

The National Indian Health Board encourages your involvement and hopes that you will provide your thoughts on how the PHAB standards and measures can be improved to protect the health of our Tribal communities.
Learn More

Click Here to access a recording of the instructional webinar.

Click Here to download the National Call for Input instructional webinar slides

For more information about PHAB and the draft standards, please visit the PHAB website at If you have any questions please contact Paul Allis, Public Health Project Manager via email at or via phone at (202) 507-4085.

2010 Tribal Public Health Profile: Exploring Public Health Capacity in Indian Country

The National Indian Health Board (NIHB) is pleased to present the 2010 NIHB Tribal Public Health Profile, the first national snapshot of our tribal public health systems to be made publically available. The results of this report help demonstrate the connections between the daily operations of individual tribal health organizations and the collective efforts to improve health status taking place nationally. Such information will benefit Tribes in a number of ways, including but not limited to:

  • Provide a baseline to measure growth and change in tribal public health capacity
  • Prioritize area for development and resource allocation
  • Advocate for resources and policy on behalf of Tribes and public health
  • Assess readiness for tribal public health accreditation
  • Identify technical assistance and quality improvement needs

On behalf of the NIHB Governing Board and staff, we express our gratitude to those who participated in the 2010 NIHB Tribal Public Health Profile. Your contributions will assist our continued efforts to monitor the progress and improvement in tribal public health capacity across Indian Country.

If you would like more information, please contact the NIHB Public Health Project Manager, Paul Allis, at or (202) 507-4085.

Click here for the full 2010 NIHB Tribal Public Health Profile


Public Health Inquiries:

Carolyn Hornbuckle, J.D.
Director of Public Health Programs

National Indian Health Board
926 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-507-4084

Robert Foley, M.Ed.
Public Health Communications and Program Manager

National Indian Health Board
926 Pennsylvania Ave, SE
Phone: 202-355-5494
Washington, DC 20003


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