ADVANCING PUBLIC HEALTH IN INDIAN COUNTRY FOR OVER 20 YEARS
Tribal Epidemiology Centers are Indian Health Service, division funded organizations who serve American Indian/Alaska Native Tribal and urban communities by managing public health information systems, investigating diseases of concern, managing disease prevention and control programs, responding to public health emergencies, and coordinating these activities with other public health authorities.

About TECs 7 Core Functions History Grant Opportunities Publications Success Stories Subcommittees 12 TECs

 


12 Tribal Epidemiology Centers

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What is Epidemiology?

ep·i·de·mi·ol·o·gy
/ˌepiˌdēmēˈäləjē/

noun

 

Epidemiology is the study (scientific, systematic, data-driven) of the distribution (frequency, pattern) and determinants (causes, risk factors) of health-related states and events (not just diseases) in specified populations (patient is community, individuals viewed collectively), and the application of (since epidemiology is a discipline within public health) this study to the control of health problems.

Source: Last JM, editor. Dictionary of epidemiology. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press; 2001. p. 61.

Frequently Asked Questions

A. Tribal Epidemiology Centers are housed in organizations who serve American Indian/Alaska Native tribal and urban communities by managing public health information systems, investigating diseases of concern, managing disease prevention and control programs, responding to public health emergencies, and coordinating these activities with other public health authorities.

There are 12 TECs in the United States. Each TEC is designated to serve the federally recognized tribes within one of the 12 Indian Health Service (IHS) administrative areas, although one TEC serves two IHS areas and another TEC serves UIHOs throughout the nation. TECs are located at tribes or Tribal organizations which are authorized under the Indian Self Determination Act to act on behalf of AI/AN Tribes.

A: TECs have the authority to conduct public health activities on behalf of AI/AN tribes and people. TECs are expressly designated as public health authorities. TECs add one more layer to the United States public health infrastructure: Federal, state, local… And now Tribal! Legislation on public health authority from the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA) can be found here (PDF 2MB). *Title 25-Indians, Chapter 18-Indian Health Care, Subchapter II-Health Services, U.S. Code § 1621m – Epidemiology Centers.
A: TECs have 7 Core Functions: In consultation with and on the request of Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations, each Service area epidemiology center established under this section shall, with respect to the applicable Service area:

• Collect data relating to, and monitor progress made toward meeting, each of the health status objectives of the Service, the Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations in the Service area;
• Evaluate existing delivery systems, data systems, and other systems that impact the improvement of Indian health;
• Assist Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations in identifying highest-priority health status objectives and the services needed to achieve those objectives, based on epidemiological data;
• Make recommendations for the targeting of services needed by the populations served;
• Make recommendations to improve health care delivery systems for Indians and urban Indians;
• Provide requested technical assistance to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations in the development of local health service priorities and incidence and prevalence rates of disease and other illness in the community;
• Provide disease surveillance and assist Indian tribes, tribal organizations, and urban Indian communities to promote public health.

Each TEC addresses these 7 Core Functions in its own unique way.

petroglyphs
Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico, is home to thousands of rock carvings like the one shown here. These symbols date back hundreds of years and are of great cultural significance and historical value.

 

Our Mission: To improve the health status of American Indians and Alaska Natives by identification and understanding of health risks and inequities, strengthening public health capacity, and assisting in disease prevention and control.

 

Test Your Knowledge

In 2014, 1.7% percent of all people in the United States identified as American Indian/Alaska Native, either alone or in combination with one or more other races. There are 15 states total with over 100,000 American Indian/Alaska Natives. California has the greatest number of American Indian/Alaska Natives, with about 723,000 individuals who identify as American Indian/Alaska Natives alone or in combination with another race. After California, the states with the greatest numbers of American Indian/Alaska Natives are Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, New York, and New Mexico.

*Sources: 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates. United States Census Bureau.
2010 Census Summary File 2, published July 2012.