Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Please follow this story. Please write to your MP.

It is looking likely that the H1N1 virus has hit a First Nations community (see article below.) When the H1N1 flu originally hit in Canada, the cases were milder than the cases in Mexico. Many have speculated that this is because of the difference in health status.

Yet in Canada health status can vary. Many First Nations live in overcrowded housing, which facilitates the spread of disease. Poverty, food insecurity, the presence of mould in homes, the higher rates of diabetes, TB, cardiovascular illness etc all work to lower the immune systems of First Nations people and make them more vulnerable to disease. (health stats)

Add this to a lack of access to medical services - it is estimated that 1 in 5 First Nations people can't access a doctor or a nurse in their community - and you have a recipe for disaster.

Now a severe flu, likely the H1N1 has hit a First Nation. As you can see in this story, the First Nation only hatched together a pandemic plan after ths flu hit.
Why? Well, it's difficult for a First Nation to pull together a pandemic plan, not only because of the lack of health services and professionals, but because jurisdictional disputes between federal departments (Health Canada and INAC) and between federal and provincial/territorial governments as well. These disputes prevent First Nations from accessing health care at the best of times. (see this news story, or this one)

Often governments argue over who should provide the service and have refused to offer health services because each wants to stick the other with the bill. The scenario is known in Indian country as "Jordan's Principle" named after a child who had to live three years in a hospital because federal and provincial governments fought over who would pay for his medical supports if he went home. The eventually solved the dispute, but Jordan never got to go home. He became ill again and died in the hospital.

So I am asking that you please follow this story, and am asking also that you write your federal MP, plus your provincial representative and ask them to get moving on including First Nations in pandemic planning before a disaster (or I guess bigger disaster) hits. Also if you can tell them to adopt Jordan's Principle (they know what it is) and end discrimination against First Nations children in the health care system that would be good too.

Suspected H1N1 flu outbreak hits reserve
By: Jen Skerritt

A remote First Nations community has shut down its school over heightened concern a severe flu is spreading among area residents. St. Theresa Point First Nation Chief David McDougall said today an additional five children suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were flown to Winnipeg on Monday night.

Over the last week, seven people suffering from severe flu-like symptoms were medivaced to Winnipeg in the last week, including two pregnant women who were sent to St. Boniface Hospital’s intensive care unit. One woman lost her child as a result of the illness. Health officials have flown in at least two additional nurses and two doctors to deal with the emerging respiratory crisis in the remote community, located 500 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Lab tests haven’t confirmed the cause of the illness, but public health officials suspect the respiratory virus could be H1N1 influenza, also known as swine flu. Residents have been told to avoid public gatherings and stay home if they're sick to stop the spread of the disease. "There was a spike in the number of cases brought to the nurses' station with flu-like symptoms," McDougall said. "It was a red flag."

St. Theresa Point community leaders held a meeting Monday afternoon to discuss how to pull together a pandemic plan. McDougall said the community lacks the infrastructure to deal with a full-scale outbreak and that a potential pandemic could spread quickly since residents live in overcrowded homes.

He said community leaders are trying to quell public fear and keep residents from panicking. "There's a respiratory problem and of course that's always a concern," McDougall said. "We're trying to figure out what the best response is."

McDougall said Health Canada and Manitoba Health are working with St. Theresa Point to investigate the spike in illnesses.


Other posts on this topic:
June 10: No Doctors, No Nurses, but emergency hand sanitizer is on its way
June 6: If it isn't racism, what is it?http://crazybitchesrus.blogspot.com/2009/06/please-follow-this-story-please-write.html
June 5: Feds slow to respond to First Nation pandemic planning: Manitoba
June 4: Another update H1N1
June 3:More on H1N1 at St. Theresa Point First Nation
June 2: Please follow this story. Please write to your MP



Crof said...

Hi, and keep me posted on this. I've already posted an item about it on my blog H5N1 (http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/2009/06/canada-h1n1-in-our-capital-and-a-first-nations-reserve.html ), but I'll track the story as long as I can.


Ward of the State said...

Thanks Crof, I'll check you site and share what I find out here.

pogge said...

The CBC picked up the story yesterday. (I spotted it in today's news diary at the Flu Wiki Forum where I'm an admin.)

Deanna said...

Saw this through Dr. Dawg.

Am writing my letter now.

Deanna said...

By the way, I am grateful for the link from the good canine - I'm definitely adding you to my bookmarks!

I wish I'd known about you while the F-word blog awards were going; I would have definitely nominated this blog. You're great!

Ward of the State said...

Thank you Deanna- for both writing the letter and the compliment.

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