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Health Report: Tanana Chiefs highlights health inequity on World Health Day

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 4:12 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - April 7th is World Health Day and Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC) works to embody the message of this year’s theme - building a fairer, healthier world for everyone.

TCC has been combating inequality in health coverage for villages for decades according to Chief/Chairman PJ Simon. Chief Simon remarked, “Of course, in the villages we always say there’s an inequality because there is. If we had doctors in every village, if we had all the programs we have here at the Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center here in Fairbanks, then we would be able to deliver a high quality of health to rural Alaskans. Of course it’s hard to deliver that high level of health care. You’re trying to deliver a high quality of service in a non-standard fashion to remote locations, it’s always going to be tough.”

TCC provides a wide range of health services to several Tribes in Alaska and has been responsible for many villages receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

“TCC has been leading the way in the vaccination distribution. We’re really proud of that fact, and it all comes down to teamwork. We got an amazing team at Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, Tanana Chiefs also. The health side, the tribal side, we’re an awesome team of individuals that’s motivated to make a village or clinic better one project at a time. The 37 Tribes that we serve, we provide health care and we try to deliver dental, vision, tele-health, whether its behavioral health or other forms of service we can deliver to rural villages who we all serve and are happy to do so,” commented Chief Simon.

According to Chief Simon, since the late 60s TCC has worked to provide health care to those who need it. Chief Simon explained, “Our doctors go out on scheduled check-ups to the villages we serve. We’ve got 26 clinics that we serve at Tanana Chiefs, and we’ve set up a room for dental and also behavioral health. Family medicine as we call it, which is the CHAP program (Community Health Aid Physician) was started in 1968, and we have Elders that years ago at Health Aid would carry around the classic black bag with a stethoscope. You know if you got a broken arm you’d have to suffer all night and jump on a plane a day or two later. Now we have world class services where we provide health care.”

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