COVID-19 hit tribal communities in the United States quickly and harshly. While the toll on these communities has been great, there has been better news when it comes to vaccine distribution. Despite the barriers to connectivity in tribal communities that impact public health efforts, tribal leaders have worked hard on improving healthcare and getting vaccines into the arms of their citizens.
Tribal leaders have looked for – and identified – solutions that could break down these barriers, and have led to better community outcomes. For example, by marrying multiple technologies, tribal communities can connect to promote vaccine distribution and testing, enable public safety for members, and help to bring the community together.
These were the key themes in the Critical Communications in Tribal Communities podcast, hosted on our sister site, Government Technology Insider. Host, Matt Langan, was joined by Walter Murillo, CEO at Native Health; and Jeff Schweitzer, 5G Innovation Architect at Verizon, discussed this topic further.
“One of the first barriers to look at is to see if service is even available, which is harder in rural areas, but less of an issue in urban areas,” said Murillo. “Once though we can establish service, the barrier becomes access to the equipment. The advent of the pandemic has allowed for telephonic visits to become more predominant, an outstanding contribution, since now individuals can have access to care. This takes away the transportation barrier, an ongoing issue for tribal communities. But even without that barrier, we have to ensure people have access to that equipment, so that became our challenge.”
Listen to the full podcast below: