Health Care

The health care system in Southwest Alaska has been shaped by the region's daunting geography and climate, multi-jurisdictional funding and governance, and the unique needs of the population. The remoteness of some villages and extreme weather conditions play prominent roles in determining access and availability of care. Special population segments such as Alaska Natives and military personnel often have separate health care systems, resulting in two or three health care systems providing similar services in one community.

Several statewide trends are reflected in the health status of Southwest Alaska, particularly due to limited access to preventative medical care and regular health check-ups for most of the Native population. Alaska Natives have one of the highest age-adjusted mortality rates for cancer in the U.S., and the prevalence of diabetes is also very high and continues to increase.

Many of the communities in Southwest Alaska have a community health clinic, and based on the Alaska Rural Health Plan, most have Level I health care services, meaning that basic primary care services are available. However, four of the ten designated Medically Underserved Areas (MUA) in Alaska are in the Southwest region. The Aleutians East, Aleutians West, Bristol Bay, and Lake & Peninsula sub-regions are also designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA).

Although public health issues are almost entirely a state responsibility in Alaska, Native regional nonprofits and health corporations serve as de facto local/regional health departments for much of Southwest Alaska.