Ottawa updating First Nations pandemic plans

Assembly of First Nations welcomes news and says other health care needs must also be addressed.

Ottawa (21 July 2010) - First Nations leaders are welcoming a federal government move to ensure pandemic flu plans are up to date.Health Canada is hiring people this summer to ensure that influenza pandemic plans in First Nations communities stay current.

Last year's H1N1 outbreak hit some aboriginal communities particularly hard. A large number of body bags were sent to a reserve in northern Manitoba, prompting debates over who should pay for items such as hand sanitizer and masks.In the end, both sides came together to make plans for nearly all communities, says Dr. Paul Gully, deputy chief public health officer for Health Canada. Gully says he wants the planning to continue because communities need to keep people trained and to ensure supplies are available."The challenge often will be is that you have certain individuals who have been involved with the planning then those individuals might change," Gully adds. "You know, the health council might change."Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, is pleased by the announcement and says Ottawa should also focus on other health issues such as the high rate of Type 2 diabetes among First Nations people."What we can't overlook though is that First Nations are in a health crisis very often without a pandemic hitting us," Atleo argues.NUPGEThe National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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