The Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) is getting ready to host a two day conference in Prince Albert.

The Know Your Status Conference (KYS) will be running from March 1 to 2 at the Prince Albert Inn. NITHA Medical Health Officer Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka said the conference will be featuring a range of different speakers who will be talking about a number of topics.

“The two day conference will feature a number of medical and subject matter experts in HIV, HEP C, addictions, treatment as well as giving some idea of what the Know Your Status program really looks like,” he said.

Ndubuka said the conference is an important event as it plays a role in helping to create awareness about the issue of HIV and HEP C in First Nations, where high infection rates have historically been a major issue. The conference as well gives those working in health care the chance to come together to hear and talk about the best way to go about creating awareness in communities and dealing with the stigmas associated with blood borne infections.

“It’s an opportunity to share those best practices,” said Ndubuka.

The KYS Conference has been a regular event since 2017, however, Ndubuka said this is the first time that NITHA has hosted it. He added the northern health authority is happy to be hosting the conference as them doing so will help bring people in from communities in the north.

In regards to conference attendees, Ndubuka said NITHA has been working to attract a range of people from the local level, including leadership and those working directly in the health care field.

“We are targeting the chiefs, the tribal chiefs, health directors, health portfolio councillors, community health nurses and other advanced front line health staff,” he said.

Ndubuka explained a number of First Nations and organizations, including the Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) and Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation, have adopted and implemented strategies which are championed by KYS and have seen some success as a result. The NITHA medical health officer said many communities are at different stages when it comes to dealing with health issues like HIV.

While this is the first time NITHA has hosted the KYS Conference, Ndubuka has himself attended it in the past. He explained in his past experience the conference has provided for good learning opportunities with break out sessions focusing on a range of topics. Ndubuka added the health care models which KYS champions have gotten attention internationally in part because they have been designed for First Nations by First Nations.

“These are all community led approaches, involving elders and knowledge keepers and volunteers, including even those who have lived experience with HIV and HEP C,” he said.

(Top Photo courtesy of Government of Saskatchewan: An HIV self testing kit)