UCSF Sends Second Wave Of Health Workers To Aid Navajo Nation

Megan Goldsby
May 21, 2020 - 6:09 pm

    UCSF has now sent dozens of health care workers to the Navajo Nation to help deal with the coronavirus outbreak there, They say the second wave of deployment is badly needed.

    “This week, if Navajo Nation was a state, it would be the hardest hit state in the nation per capita.” said Dr. Sriram Shamasunder, Associate Professor of Medicine at UCSF and co-founder of the HEAL Initiative, who has been working in the Navajo Nation since 2015.

    Shamahsunder said there are a few reasons why the nation has been hit so hard, first a long history of neglect of native populations, including a lack of funding for the Indian Health Services.

    “If you talk about obesity and diabetes as one of the underlying causes of bad COVID outbreaks, there's only thirteen grocery stores out here on the size West Virginia,” he said.

    He said that then there’s the fact that the majority of the residents have to leave the home for work, and that Navajo families live in larger, extended family units,

    “We’ve seen our Navajo colleagues running this marathon of serving their community, and we are here to run the sprint with them,” said Shamasunder, “that’s why UCSF has leaned into to support with this large group of committed and talented people until the end of June.”

    35 of the volunteers from UCSF plan to stay through the end of next month.