How the Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy in Indigenous Communities, New federal data outline the scale of suffering among Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

How the Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy in Indigenous Communities

Carol Schumacher, 56, who was raised in the remote community of Chilchinbeto in the Navajo Nation, has lost 42 family members to Covid-19 over the last two years. Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy, The dead included two brothers aged 55 and 54, and cousins as young as 18 and 19. Ms. Schumacher returned to the Navajo Nation from her home in Wisconsin this summer to grieve with family. She knew what to expect, having grown up on the reservation in Arizona. But what she saw left her reeling. The nearest hospital was a long drive away on dirt roads, she said, “and there’s no guarantee about the quality of care there even if you make it in time. Some families don’t even have transportation or running water. Imagine dealing with that.” Now federal health researchers have put a number to the misery that Ms. Schumacher and so many other families in Native communities experienced in the first two years of the pandemic.In 2020 and 2021, as the coronavirus swept across the United States, life expectancy for Native Americans and Alaska Natives fell by six and a half years — a decline that left the researchers aghast.

The comparable figure for all Americans was about three years, itself a terrible milestone not seen in nearly a century. What could have left Native Americans and Alaska Natives so vulnerable to the pandemic? There is no simple diagnosis, nor is there an easy fix, experts say. Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy, The suffering is inextricably bound to a long history of poverty, inadequate access to health care, poor infrastructure and crowded housing, much of it the legacy of broken government promises and centuries of bigotry. At least one in four Native Americans lives in poverty, the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Discrimination and racism have been linked to the erosion of mental and physical health, as has exposure to polluted air and water, studies have found.“There is nothing weird or unusual about our population,” said Dr. Ann Bullock, a former director of diabetes treatment and prevention at the federal Indian Health Services agency and a member of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. “This is simply what happens biologically to populations that are chronically and profoundly stressed and deprived of resources.”Among ethnic and racial groups tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Native Americans and Alaska Natives were the most disproportionately affected by Covid. The case rate has been 50 percent higher among the groups than among white Americans.

Native Americans and Alaska Natives have been nearly three times as likely to be hospitalized with Covid and more than twice as likely to die of it. Nonetheless, federal researchers were slow to comprehend the outlines of the disaster. Pandemic Shortened Life Expectancy, After a yearlong delay, officials announced in early August that Native Americans and Alaska Natives have seen a four-year drop in life expectancy in 2020 alone.The additional two-and-a-half year reduction in 2021 that was reported on Tuesday brought the total to more than six years, meaning that life expectancy had shortened to 65 years during the first two years of the pandemic. “We had the death rates and knew they were high, but it hadn’t been translated into life expectancy,” said Dr. Noreen Goldman, a professor of demography and public affairs at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Given that life expectancy in parts of the developing world is roughly the same, “it’s easy to understand how drastic it is,” she added. But while excess deaths — those greater than would be expected in a normal year — during the first year of the pandemic were primarily a result of viral infections in these communities, drug overdoses and chronic liver disease played a comparable role to Covid’s in driving up deaths in 2021. Still, these causes are not unrelated. The pandemic exacerbated health risks that were already deeply embedded in Native American and Alaska Native populations, according to the new government report. The groups struggle with high rates of obesity as well as extraordinarily high rates of diabetes, for example: Some 14.5 percent of adults have the disease, a higher percentage than that of any other ethnic group. Both conditions raise the odds of severe illness and death from Covid.

Source: This news is originally published by nytimes

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