Southern Chiefs go to Cuba to get health care advice

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels

Share Adjust Comment Print

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization are looking out of country as they develop a health strategy for their member communities.

Grand Chief Jerry Daniels and other representatives are in Cuba talking with their health officials about their system and how some of their initiatives and protocols can be implemented in Manitoba First Nations.

This is part of the First Nations Health Transformation Agenda currently being implemented that gives individual Indigenous communities more control over their own health care.

Daniels said they are talking working with each individual community to devise a specific health strategy that works for that community.

“We’re doing it on a community-driven basis because they’re the ones that know the priorities, they’re the frontline workers being able to support them with the tools to make health delivery better for their communities,” he said.

Daniels said they had looked at health-care systems in place across the country, including touring systems in place in the Yukon, in search of a system that lands them the best return on their health-care investments and he said Cuba’s system excels in this area.

Cuba focuses on preventative health-care and manages to maximize their investments in the industry despite an infrastructure that cannot compete with richer countries like the U.S. and Canada and have received international awards and acclaim for their efforts. The World Health Organization consistently has them ranked about 30 in the world for their system.

“They have probably the best health return on investment system in the world, nowhere else can you have health service delivery at the cost it’s being provided here,” said Daniels.

Despite major differences in infrastructure, economy and access to medicine between Canada and Cuba, Daniels said this system could be model for their communities and has the potential for “massive” savings for SCO communities.

The exchange will go beyond just a sharing of ideas. Daniels said Gambler First Nation will be the first to work with Cuba to bring one of their doctors to Manitoba to help develop a health strategy for the community and will look to send a couple of students to Cuba to learn from their medical professionals.

Daniels pointed to other industries, including infrastructure, that bring in workers and professionals from other countries to assist on all levels from the work force to planning.

The SCO received funding less than a year ago through the Health Transformation Agenda to develop a plan and will require the approval of Ottawa before going forward.

“We’ll make sure there is accreditation and we’ll make sure the system works,” said Daniels. “It is based on our jurisdiction and we’ll make sure it is based on health outcomes and that every community has a system that works for their people.”

jaldrich@postmedia.com

Twitter: @JoshAldrich03

Comments