Open Access Commentary

Indigenous populations health protection: A Canadian perspective

Katya L Richardson1, Michelle S Driedger2, Nick J Pizzi3, Jianhong Wu1 and Seyed M Moghadas1*

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Disease Modelling, York Institute for Health Research, York University, Toronto, ON, M3J 1P3, Canada

2 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3E 0W3, Canada

3 Department of Computer Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:1098  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1098

Published: 20 December 2012

Abstract

The disproportionate effects of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic on many Canadian Aboriginal communities have drawn attention to the vulnerability of these communities in terms of health outcomes in the face of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases. Exploring the particular challenges facing these communities is essential to improving public health planning. In alignment with the objectives of the Pandemic Influenza Outbreak Research Modelling (Pan-InfORM) team, a Canadian public health workshop was held at the Centre for Disease Modelling (CDM) to: (i) evaluate post-pandemic research findings; (ii) identify existing gaps in knowledge that have yet to be addressed through ongoing research and collaborative activities; and (iii) build upon existing partnerships within the research community to forge new collaborative links with Aboriginal health organizations. The workshop achieved its objectives in identifying main research findings and emerging information post pandemic, and highlighting key challenges that pose significant impediments to the health protection and promotion of Canadian Aboriginal populations. The health challenges faced by Canadian indigenous populations are unique and complex, and can only be addressed through active engagement with affected communities. The academic research community will need to develop a new interdisciplinary framework, building upon concepts from ‘Communities of Practice’, to ensure that the research priorities are identified and targeted, and the outcomes are translated into the context of community health to improve policy and practice.