Official Statement From The Southern Plains Tribal Health Board and 7th Generation
March 12, 2020 | Oklahoma City, OK
Recognizing the ongoing and increased uncertainty that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing throughout Indian Country and the world, the Southern Plains Tribal Health Board (SPTHB) and 7th Generation have agreed to cancel our upcoming Tribal Public Health Conference scheduled for April 14-16, 2020 in Durant, Oklahoma. Our highest priority is the health and well-being of our invited guests, attendees, and our staff, which includes a number of respected tribal elders. This perspective, along with the announcement from the World Health Organization (WHO) deeming COVID-19 a pandemic and number of tribal governments announcing travel bans and mandatory quarantines, made our decision conclusive.Tribal communities are the most vulnerable and least resourced to address a public health outbreak such as the COVID-19 virus.Click To Tweet
Our decision to cancel the Tribal Public Health Conference 2020 was also influenced by vulnerability factors. As stated by the National Indian Health Board (NIHB), “Tribal communities are the most vulnerable and least resourced to address a public health outbreak such as the COVID-19 virus. Tribal communities are disproportionately impacted by health conditions that increase the risk of a more serious COVID-19-related illness. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance, these conditions include (but are not limited to) heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Among our Peoples who are 8 years of age and over, rates of coronary heart disease are 1.5 times the rate for Whites, while rates of diabetes among our Peoples are nearly three times the general population. Studies have shown that American Indians and Alaska Natives are also at increased risk of lower respiratory tract infections, and in certain regions of the country are twice as likely as the general population to become infected and hospitalized with pneumonia, bronchitis, and influenza.”
With that in mind, we know how powerful it is when Native people come together as one in fast-changing situations. As we begin to foster safer environments and communities, we must all do our part to help protect each other and slow the spread of COVID-19 by being proactive and taking responsibility for what we can control in a time of uncertainty and confusion. It’s more important than ever to stay coordinated with work families and provide the clarity needed to move work forward. Knowing the sacrifices involved, we must all commit to healthy decision-making for the safety of all people.As we begin to foster safer environments and communities, we must all do our part to help protect each other and slow the spread of COVID-19 by being proactive and taking responsibility for what we can control in a time of uncertainty and confusion.Click To Tweet
To our attendees, presenters, sponsors, exhibitors, and partners, we sincerely thank you for your time, patience, and important contributions to our annual conference. The excitement to connect with you is and always will be the reason we love doing this every single year. Our work family takes great pride in providing you true hospitality—a promise that guides our organization and staff every day which is fundamental during times like this. In the coming days, we will be reaching out to you with more details and information in regards to next steps and the 2021 Tribal Public Health Conference.
In closing, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Without question, this year’s conference was expected to be one of our highest attended events with public health, tribal epidemiology center, and tribal representatives coming from every region of the country. Our focus for all future events is to provide a safe and healthy environment with the promise of delivering the best event experience for all of our conference attendees.
For the up-to-date information in prevention steps and guidelines for the novel coronavirus, please visit SPTHB’s website www.spthb.org or the Centers for Disease Control (CDC’s) at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For the latest updates regarding the Tribal Public Health Conference, visit www.tphconference.org. If you have any immediate questions, please contact SPTHB at (405) 652-9200 or email PHCinfo@spthb.org.
Southern Plains Tribal Health Board and 7th Generation