The Importance of Indigenous Health
“Health disparities between First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and the general Canadian population continue to exist. Canada’s history of colonization of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples with its resulting racism, discrimination and marginalization continue to affect the health and well being of many communities.”1 Shorter life expectancy, higher suicide rates, higher prevalence of infectious disease and higher unemployment rates are just a few of the disparities that exist between FN/I/M and the general population. We hope that by developing the aboriginal health program through the MSA and by advocating for its prioritization in curriculum, that we can help to ensure that we are future health care providers who understand cultural safety in our practice and who advocate for the rights of this underserved population.
1IPAC First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core competencies.
The National Officer of Indigenous Health of the CFMS assists the local officers in fulfilling the following objectives:
- Create new and sustain existing partnerships with external Aboriginal health-related organizations such as IPAC and NAHO.
- Encourage and support collaboration of the interest groups with Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal health care professionals and traditional healers in developing skills needed for the provision of effective health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis patients.
- Promote the adoption of core competencies in Aboriginal Health (as outlined in the document “First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core Competencies: A Curriculum Framework for Undergraduate Medical Education”) as mandatory components of undergraduate medical education in Canada.
- Support and encourage local efforts to incorporate appropriate Aboriginal health content in the undergraduate medical education curriculum.
- To promote medicine as a career for Aboriginal students and highlight mentorship opportunities to support students.
- Aid medical schools with identification of optimal approaches to provide and promote health care using models that are effective, relevant and acceptable to Aboriginal populations.
The CFMS section on Aboriginal Health has many resources to learn more about this area including links to National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC) and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
Please also see here
for the IPAC First Nations, Inuit, Métis Health Core competencies. This document defines cultural safety, provides an overview of some of the persistent health disparities between First Nation, Inuit, Métis peoples and the overall Canadian population which highlights the urgent need to prioritize the health and well being of these communities in medical school curriculum.