‘By Inuit, for Inuit’ health care could cut down on $50M flight costs: Nunavut health minister

Nunavut’s health minister says a “by Inuit, for Inuit” health care model could keep patients closer to home – and help the territory cut down on exponential costs to fly patients south.

Close to 40 per cent of all Nunavut’s health spending is on flights – more than $50 million a year. But earlier this week, federal Health Minister Jane Philpott told a newspaper that the best answer for Inuit health care is to have health care “by Inuit, for Inuit.”

Nunavut’s own health minister, Pat Angnakak, has some on ideas on how the territory should usher in its own programs.

“Midwifery is one area, I think we can keep more people at home to have their babies,” she told APTN. “Another one is cancer, we have so many people from Nunavut going down south for cancer treatment, and I think we should be able to look at some of those treatment methods and see can we apply some of those here.”

There are no mental health or addictions treatment facilities in Nunavut. According to the health minister, these are Inuit priorities, ideally fixed with Inuit staff.

“We could look at addictions and say, well how can we make that more Inuit-specific?” she said.

That $50-million-a-year on medical travel has grown every year since Nunavut was declared a territory, and will likely continue to climb. But it isn’t just the money, people simply heal better when they are at home, she said.

“When it comes to our medical well-being, when it comes to care, it’s an emotional thing,” she said. “But we have policies that relate to rules, but not always to the emotion of something.”

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