Health Officials Address H1N1 In Virtual Summit

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 14:26



A virtual summit on the H1N1 preparedness for First Nations communities is being held in Ottawa today.


Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo are co-hosting the nation-wide webcast.


Government officials say the summit is a way to help engage and educate Aboriginal youth across the country about H1N1.


Some of the key issues and questions raised by youth include why H1N1 targets young people, what the government is doing about poverty in relation to H1N1 on-reserve, why body bags were sent to Manitoba during the pandemic, and how the government is preparing for the pandemic on First Nations reserves.


Dr. Paul Gully, one of Canada’s deputy chief public health officers, is an expert for the summit’s question and answer panel.


Gully says Canada’s First Nations communities are prepared for the pandemic.


“Better prepared now than it was five years ago, and that includes in First Nations communities. And so First Nations communities have been developing and testing plans, and virtually all our First Nations communities now have a plan in place. In partnership with the provinces and territories, and the Assembly of First Nations, there’s now an annex to the Canadian pandemic influenza plan, specifically relating to planning for a pandemic on-reserve,” he says.


Gully says more than 96 per cent of First Nations across the country have pandemic plans.