WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski last night won final passage of a resolution designating April 20 – 26, 2008 as National Community Health Aide, Community Health Practitioner and Dental Health Aide Week. This resolution, co-sponsored by Senator Ted Stevens, honors Community Health Aides’ dedication to serving Alaskans.

“The Community Health Aide Program is an essential part of health care delivery in Alaska,” said Senator Murkowski. “It is fitting that we honor those who have continually adapted to the evolving health care landscape of Alaskan communities and expanded to help those in need. Alaska is one of the most challenging settings in the world in which to deliver health care.”

“The Community Health Aide Program has been a groundbreaking effort in dealing with a challenge most Americans don’t even know about. Before it was developed, many rural Alaskans did not have access to basic health and dental services that other Americans take for granted,” said Senator Stevens. “This program is an example of Alaskans developing innovative and effective solutions to meet the needs in their communities. The fact the Community Health Aide Program has served as the model for similar work throughout rural America is a sign of how successful we have been at addressing unique problems Alaskans face daily. I applaud the many individuals who have made this program such a success.”

The Community Health Aide Program in Alaska was first established in the 1950s in response to health care needs of remote Alaskan communities. The program currently consists of 550 Community Health Aides and Practitioners, as well as 40 Dental Health Aides, providing 178 isolated Alaskan communities with emergency, primary and oral health care. The Community Health Aide Program in Alaska has proven itself so successful at adapting to changing health care needs that many other countries have modeled their delivery of rural health care after Alaska’s program.