According to new data released today, March 24, Mi’kmaq people between ages 20 and 39 are five times more likely to get diabetes than other Nova Scotians. Their health could improve significantly with support from the province’s diabetes centres.
The data also highlights a need to encourage more Mi’kmaq people to take part in regular breast cancer screening, to reduce breast cancer mortality rates.
These are examples of the information now available from the new First Nations Client Linkage Registry, a joint project of First Nations chiefs, the province and Health Canada.
“This is a significant achievement, and an important step forward in enhancing our capacity to meet the health needs of our community members,” said Chief Andrea Paul, of Pictou Landing First Nation, speaking on behalf of the Nova Scotia chiefs.
“Having reliable health data will help us better monitor changes in the health of our communities, inform decisions about limited health care resources, and assist us in negotiating services that our communities need now and into the future.”
The registry includes information on hospital admissions, visits to doctors, cancer and diabetes treatment, and mortality rates.
No individual data is shared. Only community data, coming from a group with more than five people, can be shared through the registry.
“This information is key to preventing chronic disease, improving treatment, and helping people live longer, healthier, lives,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine.
Since October 2012, Nova Scotia First Nations, the province and Health Canada have been working to create the registry, develop health status reports, find ways to share key findings, and offer training for First Nations health centre staff.
“Our government is committed to improving First Nations health outcomes, and I am pleased to support an innovative and collaborative initiative such as this, which will help us deliver health programs and services more efficiently,” said Jane Philpott, federal Minister of Health. “This project will facilitate access to valuable information on the health of First Nations communities, and will contribute to evidence-based decision making regarding health services.”
Health Canada’s Health Services Integration Transition Fund provided $487,947 over four years. The province contributed in-kind staff expertise to help extract and analyze the data.