Nan Looks for Federal Commitment to Improve Maternal and Child Health in First Nations

Thursday May 29, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THUNDER BAY: Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler acknowledged the Prime Minister’s announcement of $3.5 billion to improve maternal, newborn and child health in developing countries, but says the Government of Canada should be doing more to address a growing health crisis in NAN First Nations.

“We acknowledge the commitments the Government of Canada is making to reduce preventable deaths of women and children in developing countries, but it is unacceptable that one of the regions most impacted continues to be denied equitable service and access to maternal and child health,” said NAN Deputy Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler, who holds the health portfolio. “The chronic lack of maternal and child health services in First Nations is a growing crisis that demands similar commitment and action.”
Maternal and child health services are severely limited in remote First Nations, resulting in higher infant mortality rates and serious long-term repercussions. NAN First Nations continue to suffer from lower rates of childhood immunization, poor nutrition, and disability rates twice as high as non-Aboriginal communities.

Several reports have documented major health disparities between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in Canada, with some of the greatest disparities in NAN’s remote First Nations. UNICEF Canada’s 2008 report on the health of Canada’s Aboriginal children found that infant mortality rates across Canadian First Nation communities were three to seven times higher than the Canadian average – estimated at eight deaths per 1,000 births comparable with developing countries. The report also found that Aboriginal children fall far below the national average for Canadian children in all health status indicators.

The UNICEF report concluded that the health of children is inextricability bound to the health of their mothers and their communities and ties to government systems (services and infrastructure) that affect them.

“The lack of diagnosis, treatment and resources to improve maternal and child health presents serious long-term repercussions for First Nation children and families, especially in remote communities,” said Fiddler. “The lack of assessments and services puts young lives in jeopardy, leaving children at very high risk for further complications that can severely impair their development.”
NAN assists with the delivery of community-based maternal health programs including the FASD & Child Nutrition and Health Babies & Healthy Children programs, but these programs are significantly disadvantaged due to limited funding and a lack of clinical support, diagnosis, addiction services and rehabilitation/treatment services.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty No. 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty No. 5 – an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario in Canada.

For more information please contact:

Nick Sherman, Communications Officer – Nishnawbe Aski Nation (807) 625-4906 or cell (807) 472-1464 or by email nsherman@nan.on.ca

NT5

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