5 Health Issues That Face Indigenous People in Canada

Systemic racism continues to be a persistent challenge for Indigenous people in Canada, impacting various aspects of their lives, including their health. Indigenous people face numerous health issues within the healthcare system that require urgent attention and targeted interventions. These strains are currently being addressed through the Indigenous Health Act, which targets Indigenous health needs to make care more accessible. 

Yet, Indigenous people still suffer from higher rates of chronic conditions, mental illness, and overall mortality rates compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. This is only the beginning of the breadth of health-related issues and risk factors Indigenous people face. More advanced solutions will be required to fully address these issues. One possible solution to explore is emerging technologies like remote patient management (RPM), which present a promising solution to improve healthcare access and outcomes for Indigenous communities.

Lack of Culturally Informed Care

The current healthcare offerings lack culturally informed solutions for Indigenous people in Canada. Indigenous healthcare models focus on the patient in the context of their community. To address this issue, it is essential to develop training modules for healthcare professionals that incorporate Indigenous experiences and collaborate with First Nations leaders. Modifying healthcare delivery to align with trauma-informed, strengths-based, community-engaged, and spiritually-grounded care is also crucial.

Remote patient management can play a significant role in addressing the issue by utilizing education modules to provide culturally informed care through better provider education and custom care plans. Furthermore, features like virtual communications help to involve different members of the community and thus better align with Indigenous healthcare models.

Mental Health Issues

Intergenerational trauma and social determinants of health are some of the leading causes behind higher rates of addiction and suicide among Indigenous people compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. Furthermore, the under-housing of Indigenous people is perpetuating mental health issues including depression and substance abuse.

Many Indigenous people suffering with mental health issues are also unwilling to seek out traditional interventions due to traumatic previous experiences in healthcare settings. Remote patient management can help tackle this issue. With culturally informed care and the physical separation between patient and provider, remote patient management can help facilitate a safe introduction to mental health care for Indigenous people.

Chronic Disease

Indigenous people in Canada face higher mortality rates compared to non-Indigenous Canadians. Some of the leading causes include diabetes, heart disease, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. Socioeconomic disparities, such as limited employment opportunities and psychosocial factors, contribute to the burden of chronic diseases. 

Addressing chronic diseases requires comprehensive strategies, including prevention, early detection, culturally appropriate care, and tackling socioeconomic disparities. Remote patient management utilizing telehealth solutions can enhance access to healthcare services, monitor chronic conditions, and facilitate timely interventions, especially for Indigenous individuals in remote or underserved areas, thereby improving chronic disease management in Indigenous communities in Canada.

Living Conditions

Poor living conditions significantly impact the health of Indigenous populations in Canada. There are disparities in physical and social environments, with a higher proportion of Indigenous individuals living in dwellings needing major repairs and crowded housing compared to the non-Indigenous population. These conditions contribute to health behaviour challenges, such as high alcohol consumption. 

To address these issues, culturally informed health promotion initiatives must accompany appropriate housing development. Remote patient management can support these efforts by providing education, support, and timely interventions to address health behaviours, particularly in remote or underserved areas, ultimately improving the health outcomes of Indigenous communities in Canada.

Structural Drivers

Structural drivers, including early childhood development and social inequities, have a significant impact on Indigenous health in Canada. Adequate access to quality early childhood education and supportive environments can positively influence long-term health outcomes. However, historical and ongoing colonization, systemic racism, and socio-economic disadvantages create barriers to achieving optimal health for Indigenous communities. 

Addressing these drivers requires comprehensive approaches, including culturally informed early childhood development programs and policies that promote equity and community engagement. Remote patient management can also contribute by extending access to healthcare and education, bridging geographical barriers, and working towards health equity for Indigenous populations in Canada.

Potential Care Pathways for Indigenous People in Canada

Indigenous health issues are multi-faceted and will require multiple, ongoing solutions in order to improve outcomes for this patient demographic. Emerging technologies like remote patient management present promising solutions. By leveraging healthcare technology and ensuring cultural competency within the healthcare system, it is possible to improve healthcare access, monitor patients effectively, and address the prevalent health issues faced by Indigenous individuals.

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