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Indigenous Health International (IHI) is an approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to meet the health care needs of indigenous communities around the world. IHI believes that to meet the health care needs of indigenous communities, we need to partner with them and treat their physical, mental, and social needs in a way that builds the community and solves the underlying causes of the poor health we see.
Since our incorporation in 2013, we have taken 3 trips to the Kuna Indians of Panama. During these trips our medical personnel provided direct medical care to over 343 adults and 240 children in coordination with the local clinic, provided dental care to 373 community members who otherwise have no access, provided 40 pulmonary function tests, and gave out glasses to 233 adults. Our support personnel provided nutrition education, community screening for blood pressure and blood sugar, supported medication distribution, and dispensed worm medication as part of triage for medical care. We’ve supported the local clinic through providing medications and medical equipment, and on our first trip administered a needs assessment of the health of the community to guide future efforts. Based on community needs, we also developed a scholarship program to support local community members interested in completing studies in technical schools for nutrition and medical laboratory applied science. Future trips will focus on providing specialty care and training.
IHI is also developing programs with the little people of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, and the Masai of Kenya. Initial efforts within communities focus on developing goals in collaboration with the community members and leadership, with the goal of agreeing on a 5-year commitment with specific goals and objectives. Medical trips will follow and focus on providing direct medical care in coordination with local clinics. Community health education and capacity building programs will then be initiated to foster active community involvement and engage the indigenous people in their health. Once we better understand both the needs and barriers to care in each community, IHI will develop and implement multi-faceted health interventions to improve the health of the communities. Through all of this, we also work with our partners to improve education, sanitation, and environmental health with a goal of accomplishing sustainable change.
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