AFN says urgent measures on H1N1 must be in place before the fall

    OTTAWA, June 23 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, AFN Regional Chief Angus Toulouse
who holds the portfolio for health called for three urgent measures to improve
the response to pandemic outbreaks of H1N1 in First Nations communities.
    These include: striking an independent taskforce to study the recent
outbreaks in Ontario and Manitoba and make recommendations to ensure more
seamless service; developing and instituting national guidelines for service
to First Nations; and providing investments that will allow every First Nation
to develop a pandemic plan, as well as investing in Annex B which is the
portion of the Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan that addresses outbreaks in
First Nations.
    "So far the majority of H1N1 cases have been mild, but if this outbreak
had been more virulent our communities would have been devastated," said
Regional Chief Angus Toulouse, who pointed out that the World Health
Organization (WHO) has warned that H1N1 could reappear in the fall and cause
more severe illness. "There is an urgent need to ensure every First Nations
community across Canada can equally access emergency health services before
the fall."
    As outbreaks of H1N1 spread through northern Manitoba and Ontario over
the last few months, First Nations communities witnessed delays in receiving
urgently needed medical supplies, or breakdowns in communications between
provincial and federal governments and a lack of consistency in managing the
outbreaks between the provinces. It was also clear that measures aimed at
containing the virus were ill-suited to the social realities of First Nations,
for example being told to avoid contact with others while living in cramped
and overcrowded conditions or being told to wash their hands frequently when
running water was not available.
    The Regional Chief blamed a lack of national standards for the
inconsistencies. He added that while Canada invested $1 billion into the
Canadian Pandemic Influenza Plan, no investments were made into Annex B, the
guidelines that federal, provincial and territorial governments should follow
when addressing outbreaks in First Nations communities.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) has been clear that there is a link
between the severity of influenza cases and pre-existing chronic diseases,
living in poor and overcrowded housing, poor-quality drinking water and
sub-standard healthcare.
    "Conditions in many of our communities are akin to those of the
developing world. This has placed our communities at the highest level of risk
in Canada. Clearly, if there is no improvement in planning and services, the
worsening of this virus could have tragic consequences in the fall," said
Regional Chief Angus Toulouse.

For further information:

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, AFN Heath Communications
Officer, (613) 292-1877,

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890