The mission of the UIHI is to support the health and well-being of urban Indian communities through information, scientific inquiry and technology.
The UIHI was established as a Division of the Seattle Indian Health Board, a community health center for urban American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). The UIHI is one of 12 tribal epidemiology centers (TECs) funded by the Indian Health Service (IHS). While the other 11 TECs work with tribes regionally, the UIHI focuses on the nationwide urban AI/AN population. As a crucial component of the health care resources for all AI/ANs, tribal epidemiology centers are responsible for:
- Managing public health information systems
- Investigating diseases of concern
- Managing disease prevention and control programs
- Communicating vital health information and resources
- Responding to public health emergencies
- Coordinating these activities with other public health authorities
The UIHI assists Urban Indian Health Organizations (UIHOs), which are private, non-profit corporations that serve AI/AN people in select cities with a range of health and social services, from outreach and referral to full ambulatory care. UIHOs are a network of 33 independent health agencies funded in part under Subtitle IV of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act and receive limited grants and contracts from the federal Indian Health Service (IHS). UIHOs are located in 19 states supporting individuals in approximately 100 U.S. counties, in which over 1.2 million AI/ANs reside, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. UIHOs provide traditional health care services, cultural activities and a culturally-appropriate place for urban AI/ANs to receive health care. UIHI staff work on multiple, ongoing research projects to benefit urban American Indian/Alaska Natives.