Center for Native American Health

MSC07 4246
1001 Medical Arts Ave NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Physical Location:
Integrity Building
2nd Floor

Phone: (505) 272-4100
Fax: (505) 272-6019

Navajo Nation Public Health System Assessment 3

July 14, 2014 - Kyle Smith

June 18th and 19th, 2014 marked the conclusion to an important initiative for IIKD. This assessment was developed by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and specifically tailored to this group by the IIKD staff in order to evaluate the Navajo Nation Public Health system in its entirety. This process is an important and contributing piece to Community Health Assessment (CHA) and is a “network of entities with differing roles, relationships, and interactions whose activities combined contribute to the health and well-being of the community” (NACCHO, 2012). Departments, organizations, chapters, grassroots, and outside entities contributing to the Navajo Nation system were in attendance.

The meeting began with welcoming remarks by Norman Cooeyate (IIKD) who led a discussion of the NNPHSA results presented by Anita Muneta from the Navajo Nation Division of Health. Just after, the IIKD lead the group in a World Café and focused conversation format discussion which groups, in a round-robin fashion, answered the following questions:

  1. What do you remember most from the NNPHSA?
  2. What was the most exciting part of the NNPHSA?
  3. What insights are beginning to emerge?

The next portion of the meeting was all about setting the stage for the participants. Micah Clark and I (Kyle Smith), led a Victory Circle exercise focusing on envisioning the future and also a Current Reality specifically acknowledging the situation at hand. After, Nathania did the Commitment piece where participants, one by one, acknowledged how they were going to help accomplish this “Victory” such as decreasing the numbers of deaths from car accidents and chronic diseases which was an example expressed and shared by participants.

The exercises facilitated by IIKD prepared and motivated the participants for the action planning process. Furthermore, the first step of the action planning process was a consensus workshop which addressed the question “What key action items need to be done within the next year to improve the public health system on Navajo?” After participants listed their ideas on Post-it notes, all their ideas were pasted on the sticky wall where all ideas could be clearly seen and organized. Further, Norman and Tonya led the group to organize all ideas according to similarities and relativity. By the end of this consensus workshop, seven areas were identified.

  • Improve access to data
  • Maximizing public health
  • Build our capacity
  • Naa’ ye Tiis Baa’eetyaa doo Baa keaa dil yah Ayola (public health)
  • Develop and sustain partnerships
  • Cultivate public health (champions) leaders
  • Legislative action

After, the participants grouped themselves into teams based on the area they were interested in. In these groups, teams decided what action steps to take in order to reach their goal. By the end, participants developed action plans with a step-by-step process on exactly how they will accomplish and move forward with this goal now turned plan. Groups then reported back to the entire audience.

At the conclusion of the NNPHSA, individuals who came in representing departments, divisions, and all other organizations left as part of a team with an action plan in hand. The last remarks were given by Vice President Rex Lee Jim where he spoke about the “food sovereignty,” community gardens, and how that can led to a greater awareness of what we chose to eat and feed our families.

We enjoyed our time working with the Navajo Nation. We, myself (Kyle) and Micah, had the privilege to transfer our studies and education into a real-work environment. This extensive process will set the pace and also the path for more NNPHSAs to come.