S 1227 112th
improve Arctic health.IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. BEGICH introduced the following bill; which was read
twice and referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
To improve Arctic health.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Better Health in
the Arctic Act'.
SEC. 2. FINDINGS.
(1) The United States is an Arctic nation with--
(A) an approximately 700-mile border on the Arctic Ocean;
(B) more than 100,000,000 acres of land above the Arctic Circle; and
(C) an even broader area that is defined as Arctic by temperature, including the
Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.
(2) The Arctic
region of the United States--
(A) is known to the
indigenous population as Inuvikput, or the `place where we live'; and
(B) is home to an indigenous population that has subsisted for millennia on the
abundance of marine mammals, fish, and wildlife, many species of which are unique
to the Arctic region.
(3) Since 1959, temperatures
in the Arctic region of the United States have warmed by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius,
a rate of increase more than twice the global average. The Arctic ice pack is
rapidly diminishing and thinning, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
estimates the Arctic Ocean may be ice free during the summer months in as few
as 30 years.
(4) These changes are having a significant
impact on the communities and ecosystems of the indigenous people of the Arctic,
and the marine mammals, fish, and wildlife upon which the indigenous population
(5) The negative impacts of climate change include
health problems, which are even more exacerbated among indigenous people of the
(6) Northern people have shorter life expectancy
and increased mortality related to suicide and injuries, when compared to populations
living in more moderate climates.
(7) Among the greatest
health disparities affecting Arctic people are higher rates of alcohol abuse,
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), diabetes, high blood pressure, injury,
and cancer. The FASD prevalence rate among Alaska Native people (4.8) is 3 1/2
times that for all Alaskans (1.4).
(8) Rates of suicide
in Alaska are among the highest in the Nation, with the suicide rate among Alaska
Native people about 3 times that of non-Native Alaskans and 4 times that of the
national average of the United States.
(9) Alaska Native
children are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than Alaskans of other
races, 25.7 percent compared to 10.9 percent.
is unclear why many of these health problems are greater among northern people
or whether the health problems are related to toxic influences, socioeconomic
status, cultural change, distance from sophisticated medical care, or other factors.
(11) More research is necessary into the causes of disparities in rates of particular
public health problems in the Arctic and intervention into the prevention and
treatment of these problems.
SEC. 3. STUDY OF MENTAL, BEHAVIORAL,
AND PHYSICAL HEALTH ISSUES IN THE ARCTIC.
(a) Study Authorized-
The Arctic Research Commission established under section 103 of the Arctic Research
and Policy Act of 1984 (15 U.S.C. 4102) shall, in collaboration with Federal health
agencies, directly or through contract, prepare and submit to Congress a 2-year
study to examine the science base, gaps in knowledge, and strategies for the prevention
and treatment of mental, behavioral, and physical health problems faced by populations
in the Arctic, with a focus on Alaska.
(b) Authorization of Appropriations-
There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section a total of $1,200,000
for fiscal years 2012 and 2013.
SEC. 4. NATIONAL ARCTIC HEALTH
(a) Updating 1984 Policy- The Director of the
National Institutes of Health shall, in collaboration with other governmental
agencies and private and nonprofit entities involved in Arctic health issues,
develop a national Arctic health science policy. In developing the policy, the
Director shall review and take into consideration the National Arctic Health Science
Policy developed by the American Public Health Association Task Force in 1984.
(b) Desk for Arctic Health- Section 401(c) of the Public Health Services Act (42
U.S.C. 281(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(3) DESK FOR ARCTIC HEALTH-
Within the Division, there is established a Desk for Arctic Health.
`(B) DUTIES- The Desk for Arctic Health shall--
`(i) work with the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee established under
section 107(b) of the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (15 U.S.C. 4106(b))
to ensure adequate health representation from Federal agencies;
`(ii) collaborate and consult with governmental entities and United States nongovernmental
organizations involved in Arctic health issues, including the State of Alaska,
University of Alaska, and entities that handle issues regarding the health of
the indigenous people of the Arctic; and
`(iii) collaborate with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on indigenous
Arctic people health issues, in accordance with the 2004 agreement between the
National Institutes of Health and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research,
and with other international entities dealing with pan-Arctic health issues.'.
5. ARCTIC HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENTS.
Part P of title III of the
Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 280g et seq.) is amended by adding at the
end the following:
`SEC. 399V-6. ARCTIC HEALTH IMPACT ASSESSMENTS.
`(a) Findings- Congress finds the following:
`(1) The health
impact assessment process can be a valuable tool for better Arctic health by objectively
evaluating the potential health benefits and risks of a project or policy before
the project or policy is built or put into place.
Health impact assessments can provide recommendations to increase positive health
outcomes and minimize adverse health outcomes.
major benefit of the health impact assessment process is that it brings public
health issues to the attention of people who make decisions about areas that fall
outside traditional public health arenas, such as transportation or land use.
`(b) In General- The Secretary, acting through the Director of the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, shall establish a program at the National Center
of Environmental Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to foster
advances and help provide technical support in the field of Arctic health impact
`(c) Definition of Health Impact Assessments- In
this section, the term `health impact assessment' means a combination of procedures,
methods, and tools by which a policy, program, or project may be judged as to
its potential effects on the health of a population, and the distribution of those
effects within the population.'.