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From: Bob Olsen <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
Subject:      Indiginous health crisis
Comments: To: [EMAIL PROTECTED]

            The Toronto Star        Nov 26, 18:45 est

      Canada's indigenous people face health
             crisis                                

    GENEVA (CP)  A report by the World Health Organization said Canada's ``750,000 
native people suffer poor health conditions and indicators show they are at greater 
risk of tuberculosis, diabetes, suicide, violent death and alcohol-related illness and 
injury than the general population.''

The 98-page report by the UN agency examines the health situation of the world's 300 
million indigenous peoples and provides case studies of a number of different groups 
in all regions of the world.

The study was released in connection with

a four-day WHO conference, which ended Friday, aimed at developing a global plan of 
action for improving the health of indigenous peoples around the world.

The conference - the first ever to examine all aspects of indigenous health - was 
unique in that native peoples were invited as participants.

``In many areas, health conditions are worsening, as demonstrated by rising rates of 
diseases such as diabetes, cancer, alcoholism, critical levels of infant mortality and 
decreasing life expectancies,'' said Willie Littlechild, chief of Canada's Four Cree 
Nations.

Regarding his own people, Littlechild notes the Cree have the highest suicide, 
substance-abuse and violence rates in the world. Also, the Cree are now beginning to 
lead in the occurrence of diabetes because of a change to a non-traditional diet.

``It is very important that WHO has consulted indigenous peoples on ways to improve 
our health,'' Littlechild said at the close of the conference.

``It gives us hope for the future.''

The WHO study paints a generally grim picture of the situation of native peoples in 
Canada.

It finds even though the First Nations have political autonomy in Canada, native 
peoples continue to occupy a very marginal position in the overall political, 
economic, social and cultural institutions of the country and this has a direct effect 
on their health conditions.

Statistics show infant-mortality rates are higher and life expectancy lower for 
natives than for the general population.

For example, the study shows life expectancy among the Inuit has improved but is still 
four to five years lower than the Canadian average.

In the Northwest Territories, the ``infant mortality is still three-times higher than 
for the Canadian population as a whole.''

Other major health problems include alcohol and drug abuse, depression, suicide and 
violence.

Among the Inuit in the Northwest Territories, smoking rates are higher than the 
national average. By the age of 19, the report said, 63 per cent of Indians and Inuit 
smoke, compared with 43 per cent for non-natives - accounting for ``the recent 
increase in lung cancer among Inuit in the Northwest Territories.''

Similarly, native peoples in the United States risk higher rates of tuberculosis, 
chronic liver disease, cancer, pneumonia, diabetes, suicide and homicide than the U.S. 
population as a whole, the report said.


             Contents copyright  1996-1999, The Toronto Star.
    .............................................
    Bob Olsen, Toronto      [EMAIL PROTECTED]
    .............................................

Reprinted under the Fair Use http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html doctrine 
of international copyright law.
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