Viral hepatitis impacts Indigenous peoples at rates much higher than average on a global scale, harming their physical, spiritual, emotional, social and economic health. This is often a result of the lasting impacts of colonialism, inadequate access to immunization and treatment, and lethargy on the part of governments to provide culturally-safe healthcare to Indigenous people.
Approximately 16.3% of Saskatchewan’s population identifies as Indigenous, and their communities are impacted by hepatitis. First Nations people in Canada are seven times more likely to contract Hepatitis C.
First Nations and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia are approximately four times more likely to contract Hepatitis B, and Māori and Pasifika have twice the national rates of Hepatitis B. Indigenous people in Asia, Central and South America, and Africa also tend to have higher rates of viral hepatitis.
Indigenous people, including those with lived and living experience of viral hepatitis, Elders/Knowledge Holders, clinicians, researchers and policymakers gathered online June 22-23, 2022 for the third World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Viral Hepatitis (WIPCVH) to highlight this issue and effect change.
It was chaired by Dr. Alexandra King (citizen, Nipissing First Nation), Cameco Chair in Indigenous Health and Wellness at the University of Saskatchewan.
There were presentations from Indigenous people and organizations who are using traditional approaches to wellness, sometimes in tandem with Western medicine, to treat hepatitis. Medical and frontline experts shared their latest developments. The impact of HIV as a hepatitis coinfection and how HIV programs can partner with viral hepatitis programs for screening, care and treatment programs, were addressed. There were keynote speeches from Māori health experts on Māori health inequities and Cree Senator Mary Jane McCallum on the impacts of residential schools on Indigenous people’s health. There were cultural interludes and ceremony, and people with lived experience sharing their stories. It was a rich and vibrant online conference that we are proud to have organized.
For more information, visit www.wipcvh.org or contact:
Sarah MacDonald – firstname.lastname@example.org