Access to Specialized Care for Indigenous Groups
Indigenous Dermatology acts on the belief that the best way to guarantee high-quality dermatologic care is to rely upon and invest in local communities and health systems.
What does creating access to dermatology look like for indigenous groups? It requires well-trained staff; proper supplies; health facilities with reliable space, electricity, and running water; and culturally appropriate best practices that ensure patients receive quality care.
Our work aims to eliminate the social, economic, physical, and cultural barriers communities experience. We believe individuals and communities have the right to specialized medical providers like doctors and nurses, no matter where they live.
Despite making up 6 percent of the world’s population, indigenous skin is not included in curricula for doctors, nurses, and other professional medical training. Research tells us if we diversify curricula to include indigenous people, this could attract more diverse medical professionals in the future. This is even more essential as Native Americans are more likely to return to their homes to work and care for their communities.
We believe including indigenous skin in future text books has to potential create a more diverse health workforce. We also believe investing in an indigenous health workforce in the United States could lead to overall better health outcomes for indigenous groups and the larger United States.
The Role of Tribal Partners
A mother of four in northern Alaska cannot go see a doctor about a skin lesion when the closest hospital is a 2 hour plane ride away. An elderly man in northern California cannot drive four hours to San Francisco for a ____.
That is why our work, at the moment, focuses on delivering dermatology straight to people’s homes and communities. This allows Dr. Chacon to find the most vulnerable community members and attend to their urgent needs while also keeping in mind future developing conditions given social, economic, racial, and ethnic factors. As a Mayan descendent, Dr. Chacon is uniquely equipped to speak and work with indigenous communities who may resist Western medicine. Dr. Chacon is actively learning how to combine ancient knowledge and modern medicine to care for rural indigenous communities.
Eventually, this work will expand to include community health workers that will establish a more robust, community driven model that will sustain and support tribes’ community expertise with regards to health and dignity.