March 27 2020
Indigenous peoples are already highly marginalized within health and social services;
COVID-19 will thus have a greater impact on these populations in these and other ways:
- Economic impact of COVID-19 is deepening—most Indigenous peoples live in poverty.
- Physical distancing—how does this work with Indigenous homeless or overcrowding in Indigenous homes?
- Self-isolation—lack of housing, temporary lodging, and overcrowding are Indigenous social issues.
- Health care—quality and access are already the major issues for Indigenous peoples.
- Existing health burden–-high existing burden of chronic disease, obesity, and commercial tobacco increase the risk of serious COVID-19 infections for Indigenous populations
- Water—some Indigenous reserves lack clean and accessible drinking water, and this can complicate hand washing and sanitizing of the self, home, and environment
- Travel—some Indigenous communities are isolated thus travel is a barrier for treatment, health care providers, and supplies. Travel is also an issue in cities, as due to poverty most Indigenous people do not have their own private vehicles and are reliant on public transit, which puts them at risk of infection.
- Precarious employment—this is a greater issue for all Indigenous populations.
COVID-19 Current Issues
- All Indigenous populations are more vulnerable to COVID-19 community spreading.
- Urban Indigenous peoples are being ignored by government and health care responses.
- Indigenous communities are not getting clear or direct messaging from governments.
- Much misinformation is being circulated in Indigenous communities.
- Indigenous Healers/Elders are not being consulted by government or biomedical systems.
- Government is continuing to impose colonial models of health care and public health on both reserves and Indigenous urban settings, i.e., drop in doctors, nurses, mental health workers, biomedical only services.
- WBIIH/U of T (Suzanne Stewart) and Well Living House/St. Michael’s Hospital (Janet Smylie) are developing: Urban Indigenous Response to COVID-19 to be rolled out ASAP.
The Waakebiness-Bryce Institute for Indigenous Health believes partnerships are the key to parity in Indigenous and non-Indigenous health: partnerships with Indigenous peoples, leaders and organizations; with educational, public health and cultural institutions; and with all levels of government.
Through partnerships built on respect, inclusion and trust, together we are laying the foundation for a sustainable future of wellness in Indigenous peoples — one policy, one community and one person at a time.
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- Collaborative Specialization in Indigenous Health
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