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Renville to head national committee on injury prevention
15 June 2005

WASHINGTON (UTN) - The department head of Injury Prevention at United Tribes Technical College is the new chairman of the National Injury Prevention Steering Committee. Dennis A. Renville was elected June 14 to lead the policy making group that advises the U. S. Public Health Service, Indian Health Service (I-H-S) about its injury prevention programs.

      "It's an honor for me to serve," said Renville from Washington, DC, where he and other committee members were gathering Congressional support. "There's a lot to be done to reduce injury death rates among tribal people."

Dennis Renville
Dennis A. Renville, newly elected chair of the I-H-S Tribal Steering Committee on Injury Prevention.

      The injury rate for American Indians and Alaska natives is 1.5 to 5 times greater than other Americans, according to I-H-S statistics. Injuries are the leading cause of death among American Indians and Alaska Natives between ages 1 and 44.

      A model injury prevention program developed by the I-H-S is aimed at reducing unintentional hospitalizations. About three-dozen tribal programs are in place at tribes across the country but only a few receive federal funding.

      "We're asking that $2-million dollars be earmarked each year for the next five years to help fund more programs at the tribal level," he said. "That's really not a very large appropriation but it sure will help."

      Renville's program at United Tribes Technical College is one of the leading injury prevention training programs in the country. It was the first to offer undergraduate degrees and has produced 37 graduates in four years, including two online this spring.

      The UTTC program follows the I-H-S model by focusing on the creation of community-specific solutions to the eight major causes of injury and death: motor vehicles, pedestrians, firearms, suicide, homicide, drowning, fire and burns, and suffocation.

      "It's incomprehensible to people in Washington that our youth suicide rates can be so high," said Renville. "That's one of the major concerns of the steering committee and injury prevention programs."

      According to I-H-S reports, the highest rates of youth suicide occur in the Aberdeen, Alaska and Tucson I-H-S areas.

      The Tribal Steering Committee on Injury Prevention is charged with advising the I-H-S about its Injury Prevention Programs and promoting and supporting tribal programs.

      Renville's unanimous election to head the committee is for one year. He is an enrolled member of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe of South and North Dakota. He holds a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology and Guidance from the University of South Dakota, Vermillion, and was formerly a public health advisor with the I-H-S in Bismarck, ND and Aberdeen, SD.


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