Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board: Indian Leadership for Indian Health

History of the Epicenter

Background

Until recently, monitoring and surveillance of disease and disease risk factors among AI/AN people has been a function of the Indian Health Service (IHS). In the Portland Area, which includes Washington, Oregon and Idaho, downsizing diminished the capabilities of IHS to adequately perform basic epidemiologic functions such as monitoring the health status of AI/AN communities.

In 1997, the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board (NPAIHB) received funding for the development of the Northwest Tribal Epidemiology Center (The EpiCenter), with the goal to assist member tribes to improve their health status and quality of life.

The EpiCenter is conducted and administered by NPAIHB, a non-profit tribal advisory board established in 1972 to advocate and provide technical assistance for the 43 Federally recognized tribes of Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

There are now ten national Centers charged with collecting data relating to and monitoring progress towards meeting the health status objectives; evaluating delivery systems and data systems; and assisting tribes to identify high priority needs for health care delivery and health education.