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JOGC

A Guide for Health Professionals Working with Aboriginal Peoples

Health Issues Affecting Aboriginal Peoples
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        Summary

        The first segment of this document*** discussed the concept of epidemiologic transition as applied to Aboriginal peoples in Canada. Of the three progressive stages of health and illness seen internationally among indigenous peoples who experience European colonization, indigenous peoples in Canada appear to be between the second and third stages.76 Along with declining rates of infectious diseases and rapid population growth, there is a rise in chronic degenerative diseases: these patterns vary depending on the particular community. In his review of American Navajo health and health services, Haraldson points out that while Western public health interventions such as immunizations, sanitary engineeting, and organized clinical care can have a marked impact on health indicators in the second stage of ttansition, the more behaviourally influenced morbidity and mortality patterns associated with chronic degenerative diseases present a much larger health challenge: “Further improvements in these patterns will require significant changes in lifestyle and behaviour, and will extensively depend upon internal tribal interest and activities.” 79
        There is a critical need for accurate, regionally specific data about the precise nature of health problems for all Aboriginal peoples, including “non-registered“ First Nations and Inuit people, the Metis, and Aboriginal people living in urban areas. Committed health care providers can share health information with Aboriginal individuals and communities to help create a more accurate, culturally appropriate understanding of community health status. Individuals and communities need to have a clear picture of the health problems they are facing before they can make change.
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