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October 11, 1985

Indian Health Service: 30 years of progress

JAMA. 1985;254(14):1872-1876. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360140018003

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This year, the Indian Health Service (IHS) is marking its 30th anniversary as part of the Department of Health and Human Services. And, according to officials, some far-reaching consequences concerning the medical care of American Indians and Alaska Natives have come about since 1955 when the responsibility for IHS activities was shifted from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (in the Department of the Interior) to the Public Health Service.

Among the more significant happenings were:

  • Passage of the Indian Sanitation Facilities Act in 1959 that set the IHS up as a state and county health department and contained provisions for establishing sanitation programs in Indian communities.

  • Enactment of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act in 1975 that allowed the tribes and native groups to manage and operate health care programs in their communities. It also authorized the assistance they needed in order for them to be able to take