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  1. March 30, 2006 - Thinking differently about health care

March 30, 2006

Thinking differently about health care

Millbrook (NS) - Health care is a topic that touches each one of us. From a trip to the hospital to finding a doctor. From healthy eating to fighting an addiction. Too often, we are touched by health care only when we need to be “fixed” or healed. And not enough times are we asked how the health care system should work with us, to make our whole life healthy.

But Mi’kmaq and Aboriginals in Nova Scotia have taken steps to ensure their voice is being heard on the future of their health care. In preparation for a meeting of First Ministers and Aboriginal leaders in November 2005, that collective voice came together in “Providing Health Care, Achieving Health,” a document articulating the state of Aboriginal health in Nova Scotia. This document, in its final form, was released today.

“By sharing our thoughts through the Blueprint process, Mi’kmaw people from across the province are taking ownership of their own health and health care system,” comments Tripartite Forum Executive Chair Rick Simon. “This opportunity to work together with Mi’kmaq, Federal and Provincial partners, to shape a vision of Aboriginal health care for the future is a new way of looking at this topic. Now the challenge becomes implementing this work with those partners.”

In Nova Scotia, the task of engaging Mi’kmaq and Aboriginal peoples was made easier through the existence of a unique organization - the Mi’kmaq•Nova Scotia•Canada Tripartite Forum. The Tripartite Forum, formed in 1997 brings Mi’kmaw representatives together with provincial and federal government representatives to work on issues of mutual concern effecting Mi’kmaw communities. As one can imagine, health care is a standing topic for discussion.

Because relationships already exist among the Tripartite Forum partners, using this collaborative approach was clearly the best option. Over an eight-week period, a total of six meetings were held across the province in the interest of hearing about health concerns both on and off reserve.

Each meeting was attended by a broad cross-section of people, including elders, Chief and Councilors, youth, health care workers, patients and family members, District Health Authority senior executives and front-line staff, doctors, policy advisors, educators and advocates. Several themes came forward as these meetings continued across the province, but participants kept coming back to one “key message” that later informed the title of the summary document. No matter what changes are suggested or made to the health care system, achieving health - not just providing health care - is the ultimate goal.

After the meetings ended, and people had the chance to share their point of view, the report entitled – “Providing Health Care, Achieving Health” was compiled to serve two purposes. One, to provide input to the development of the National Aboriginal Health Blueprint and two, to set a common course in advancing a shared goal of health for all Aboriginal people in Nova Scotia.

The document isn’t full of what people thought was wrong with Aboriginal health care, but instead gives suggestions of how to strengthen the system and how the partners can work together to ensure a strong future. “Providing Health Care, Achieving Health” sets a strong foundation for collaboration in closing the gaps in the health outcomes experienced between Aboriginal people and other Nova Scotians.

Sometimes thinking and working differently can give you different answers. And sometimes, different answers are just what you need.


Media contact:
Jeff Bishop, Communications Officer
Mi’kmaq•Nova Scotia•Canada Tripartite Forum
Office: 902.895.6385
Mobile: 902.899.8890

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