The value of life

by Peter Twitchell

I believe as a Yupiaq Tribe we really need to start working together to get health aides in all of our villages on the coast, Kuskokwim river, in the Yukon River villages. Also as tribal entities and Board of Directors we need to see to it that our needs for better health care are put on the table to be discussed and brought to the attention of our lawmakers in Washington DC and Juneau.

Through the years there have been tribal members who became ill and were way beyond help after the cancer spread through their body. Colon cancer and stomach cancers being two of the illnesses among our people.

Having been told of people who succumbed to cancer we are about 20 years behind in this effort to give our villagers better healthcare in their own communities.

I have heard many stories within the southwest including from Yukon villagers who were diagnosed too late to help. I have also been told by villagers that they don’t have a health aide in their village. As tribal entities, we need to unite to wipe the scourge of cancer from our villages!

I often hear it said when I go to the clinic and watch the TV monitor or listen on the radio, Quote: “Alaska Natives are the healthiest people in the world.” How about those villagers who do not have a health aide on a daily basis checking village patients and making referrals to the healthcare facility in Anchorage or Bethel?

It is encouraging that Alaska Natives may be the healthiest people in the world one day soon. However in rural Alaska villages tribes must unite and work towards a better healthcare system within the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta.

Health aides need to be trained and recruited for villages in the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta Region with adequate relief and salaries and adequate housing to keep their jobs in the villages they were assigned to.

In order to do this to this tribes including the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation’s Board of Directors must stand on common ground on this issue of a better native healthcare system in rural Alaska.

I’m also told by villagers that it costs $1000 to go to the Bethel hospital for care from the region outside of Bethel. I know many people and families that could not meet the cost of transportation to go see a doctor to seek medical attention in Anchorage or Bethel.

I believe we all cherish and value life and I believe this is one issue people must address to live healthy lives which is needed for the peoples prosperity.