Murkowski Spotlights Alaska Native Health Disparities

Senator Is Lead Republican on Bi-Partisan Minority Health Awareness Resolution

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski joined colleagues across the aisle to commemorate “Minority Health Awareness,” in a resolution that passed the Senate unanimously. “Alaska Natives, and many minorities nationwide, suffer health problems at an alarmingly high rate,” said Murkowski. “There are many reasons and many factors at play – but the first step to fixing the problem, simply, is spotlighting the problem through information.”

Senator Murkowski was the lead Republican co-sponsor on the resolution put forward by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD).  The resolution also addresses the problems faced by African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics and Native Hawaiians – minority populations that face disproportionate rates of diseases and health problems, as well as a lack of access to health care.

“Compared to most American communities, heart disease, diabetes, tuberculosis and alcoholism are rampant in Alaska Native and American Indian populations,” Murkowski continued. “And by this resolution my colleagues and I are saying ‘It doesn’t have to be this way.’  There’s no reason for a man in Shaktoolik or a woman in Selawik to have worse odds of a long, healthy life than the average American.”

American Indians and Alaska Natives have a life expectancy 5.2 years less than the national average.  The Department of Health and Human Services has identified heart disease, malignant neoplasm, unintentional injuries, diabetes and stroke as the five leading causes of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives.