Health & Human Services
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the U.S. government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. HHS accomplishes its mission through programs and initiatives that cover a wide spectrum of activities, serving and protecting Americans at every stage of life. The mission of HHS is to enhance the health and well-being of all Americans by providing for effective health and human services and by fostering sound, sustained advances in the sciences underlying medicine, public health, and social services.
HHS has extensive scientific expertise in the Arctic, mostly focusing on Alaska. In addition to research activities from the National Institutes of Health () and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention () described in detail on separate pages, the following are examples of HHS research interests in the region:
- The Tribal Early Childhood Research Center is funded and managed through the Administration for Children and Families. Through it, HHS seeks to address gaps in early childhood research that is inclusive of American Indian and Alaska Natives. The center partners with tribal Head Start, Early Head Start, childcare, and home visiting programs.
- The Health Resources and Services Administration conducts a National Survey of Children’s Health (), which provides both national- and state-level estimates, including in Alaska, of a wide variety of child health indicators, including Adverse Childhood Experiences. The is an annual, cross-sectional, address-based survey that collects information on the health and well-being of children ages 0-17 years, and related health care, family, and community-level factors that can influence health. The is funded and directed by HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau and fielded by the U.S. Census Bureau, using both web-based and paper and pencil methodologies. Data from the reflect information collected from parents/caregivers and are the only source of both national- and state-level estimates on key measures of child health.
- The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality () works to improve the quality, efficiency, and value of health care delivery in Alaska by providing state-specific information for Alaska in the National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report (). The provides information on trends for measures related to access to care, affordable care, care coordination, effective treatment, healthy living, patient safety, and person-centered care. The report presents, in chart form, the latest available findings on quality of and access to healthcare, as well as disparities related to race and ethnicity, income, and other social determinants of health.
- ’s Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project (, pronounced "H-Cup") is a family of databases, software tools and related products developed through a federal-state-industry partnership sponsored by . These databases enable research on a broad range of health policy issues, including cost and quality of health services, medical practice patterns, access to health care programs, and outcomes of treatments at the national, state, and local market levels. The databases are based on the collection efforts of data organizations in participating states, including Alaska. Users can generate county- and region-level statistics on hospital stays, emergency department use, opioids, and other topics.
- ’s Medical Expenditure Panel Survey is the only national data source measuring how Americans use and pay for medical care, health insurance, and out-of-pocket spending. Annual surveys of individuals and families, as well as their health care providers, provide data on health status, the use of medical services, charges, insurance coverage, and satisfaction with care. The MEPSnet Query Tools can be used to generate statistics and other information on these topics for Alaska and compare those statistics with other states.
- The Indian Health Service works in collaboration with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the state of Alaska to support the development of Arctic Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) innovations and support research on the health impacts of poor indoor air quality, especially on children.
All HHS divisions with Arctic research equities actively have been involved at all levels of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (), a mandated body under the National Science and Technology Council (). This representation includes an HHS principal and three HHS staff group members. Officials from and from ’s National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities co-chair ’s Health and Well-Being Collaboration Team. HHS representatives have contributed to the current and upcoming five-year Arctic research plans and have collaborated with other agencies to advance U.S. Arctic research policies.