Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health
Students at the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health. The center's 500 Scholar Initiative was recently announced.

500 Scholars Initiative: Eliminating Health Disparities Through Education


The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health recently announced its 500 Scholars Initiative, which will raise $3 million over the next three years to promote education and training opportunities for 500 American Indian and Alaska Natives.

According to a press release about the program, initiatives can include programs to help youth finish high school, work-training opportunities at John Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, and helping Native students finish graduate and doctoral degrees.

“The most effective way to eliminate health disparities is through education that allows tribes to take ownership and control of their health systems and solutions,” said Dr. Mathuram Santosham, founding director of Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, in the release.

Natives today face a number of health disparities including higher rates of obesity, diabetes, youth suicide, chronic liver disease, injuries, pneumonia, heart disease, and substance abuse of any other racial or ethnic group in the United States. Education and health are linked, and according to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Natives are lagging 20 to 25 years behind the general public in both health and education equality.

The 500 Scholars Initiative aims to raise the health status and autonomy of Natives by providing more educational opportunities, and focusing on training the next generation of Native health care providers and health scientists.

“Many members of our tribe have received scholarship support and training from Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health,” said Ronnie Lupe, chairman of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, in the release.

Since 2001, the center has supported more than 1,500 American Indian scholars from 30 tribal communities in pursuing higher education and health careers.

“The team at Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health supported my development and played an instrumental role in guiding my career,” said Delvin Yazzie, a member of the Navajo Nation and Acting Director of the Navajo Epidemiology Center, in the release. “Their Training Program is playing a critical role in addressing a large gap of Native peoples trained in the public health sciences, which is imperative to improving the health status of Native American communities for future generations,” said Delvin, who received a Master of Health Science degree from Johns Hopkins in 2002 with scholarship and mentoring support from the center.

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