NB First Nation Communities

First Nation communities in New Brunswick have a unique set of health-related needs that require a unique and culturally appropriate approach to ensure quality care is delivered to its members. During the past 14 years, the Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative (ADI) has been an innovative and successful approach to addressing the Aboriginal Diabetes issue, and has evolved into a well-organized program that includes the areas of care and treatment, prevention and promotion as well as lifestyle support with a more recent focus on physical activity, food security, gestational diabetes and diabetes during pregnancy The ADI program takes into consideration the unique health needs for each community and tailors it to fit the community’s health approach. This system of program delivery has allowed the Aboriginal communities across Canada the flexibility to organize and deliver their programs according to the needs of each community.

Most communities are equipped with a fully operational health centre, and is within 2 hours of a provincially-run health facility, which would make it easier for the people with diabetes to access hospital diabetes clinics and services. Unfortunately, many of the community members do not access the readily available programs and the onus falls on the community health staff to deliver such programs to the community members. Recent research suggests several reasons why Aboriginal clients do not attend local diabetes clinics, including transportation, cultural misunderstandings, language, fear of being judged, etc.

The Aboriginal Diabetes Initiative is scheduled to sunset in 2015, after more than fifteen years of providing diabetes care and services to Canada’s Aboriginal people. It is anticipated that capacity has been built to support the communities in their quest to manage the escalating numbers of diabetes among this population. Program funding has been invested into training and building capacity for the community health staff to better prepare them for delivery of quality diabetes programming in collaboration with their provincial colleagues. Since there is a marked increase in the risks and occurrence of Type 2 Diabetes — especially among Canada’s Aboriginal Youth, it is imperative that future program activities are geared towards that specific population group. To date, New Brunswick’s ADI Program has strived to increase awareness of the diabetes epidemic, improve the competencies of the community health nurses in providing care and treatment to community members and their families living with diabetes, as well as liaise with provincial diabetes programs in the hope that more First Nation People will access existing provincial diabetes programs and services.

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