American Indians and Alaska Natives suffer from disproportionately high rates of cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse and mental illness. Despite well-intentioned efforts to close the gap, these health disparities continue to reduce both quality of life and life expectancy for millions of indigenous people.
In Sept., 2012, the National Institutes of Health named UW School of Social Work Indigenous Research Institute (IWRI) a Center of Excellence-one of 16 centers in America devoted to ending health disparities among minorities. The School of Social Work is the first ever to receive this type of grant (called P-60), which is historically given to schools of public health.
Karina Walters, IWRI director, suggests a profound shift in perspective in health-service education and delivery. Instead of following the Western scientific approach of addressing such problems "from the outside in", IWRI advocates ways of healing and wellness deeply rooted in indigenous culture. IWRI's innovative approach has attracted students, tribal partnerships and significant federal support.
The $6.29 million infrastructure grant will help IWRI make its house a home, creating new permanent space for scholarship and bringing more students into health science research careers. IWRI will also expand its research and training activities with indigenous communities. And it will strengthen collaboration with kindred organizations across North America, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
Read more about this singular grant to the School of Social Work at the UW Daily.