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Partnerships & Collaborations

Department of Health and Human Services' Indian Health Service (IHS)

The Indian Health Service (IHS), an agency within HHS, is responsible for providing Federal health services to American Indians and Alaska Natives. The provision of health services to members of Federally-recognized tribes grew out of the special government-togovernment relationship between the Federal government and Indian tribes.

This relationship, established in 1787, is based on Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution, and has been given form and substance by numerous treaties, laws, Supreme Court decisions and Executive Orders. IHS is the principal Federal health care provider and health advocate for Indian people, and its goal is to raise their health status to the highest possible level.

The IHS currently provides health services to approximately 1.5 million American Indians and Alaska Natives who belong to more than 557 Federally-recognized tribes in 35 States.

In order to carry out its mission, uphold its foundation and attain its goal, the IHS:

  1. Assists Indian tribes in developing their health programs through activities such as health management training, technical assistance and human resource development.
  2. Facilitates and assists Indian tribes in coordinating health planning, in obtaining and using health resources available through Federal, State and local programs and in operating comprehensive health care services and health programs.
  3. Provides comprehensive health care services, including hospital and ambulatory medical care, preventive and rehabilitative services and development of community sanitation facilities.
  4. Serves as the principal Federal advocate in the health field for Indians to ensure comprehensive health services for American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Most IHS funds are appropriated for American Indians who live on or near reservations. Congress also has authorized programs that provide some access to care for Indians who live in urban areas.

IHS services are provided directly and through tribally-contracted and operated health programs. Health services also include health care purchased from more than 9,000 private providers annually. The Federal system consists of 36 hospitals, 61 health centers, 49 health stations and five residential treatment centers. In addition, 34 urban Indian health projects provide a variety of health and referral services. American Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations administer 13 hospitals, 158 health centers, 28 residential treatment centers, 76 health stations and 170 Alaska village clinics.

Services: Clinical practice guidelines, comprehensive health care program, health finder, patient education protocols and codes, training and technical assistance


  • Native Health Research Database (NHRD). The NHRD, a joint venture between IHS and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Library, is a database of resource documents and other materials from approximately 1970 to the present time for tribal health professionals and health care practitioners working with Native American populations.
  • Patient Education Protocols and Codes. The Patient Education Protocols and Codes provide necessary information to assist nurses, physicians and other health care providers in documenting and tracking patient education.

Publications: Numerous publications are available on the Web site.

Indian Health Service
The Reyes Building
801 Thompson Avenue, Ste. 400
Rockville, MD 20852-1627
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