TORONTO – HEALTH – Today Cancer Care Ontario launches the third Aboriginal Cancer Strategy, a comprehensive plan that will guide how the organization works with partners to improve the performance of the cancer system and reduce the burden of cancer for First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) people from 2015-2019.
First Nations, Inuit and Métis have higher mortality rates from preventable cancers, show higher rates of some modifiable risk factors and tend to present with later-stage cancers at the time of diagnosis.
Aboriginal Cancer Strategy (ACS) III builds on the progress in the second strategy (2012-2015) and focuses on the same six strategic priorities to improve health equity:
- Build Productive Relationships – Work with Aboriginal groups to formalize relationships based on trust and mutual respect.
- Research and Surveillance – Compile and/or develop data to inform and monitor progress in programming initiatives.
- Prevention – Focus on smoking cessation efforts and begin to address other modifiable risk factors.
- Screening – Increase participation in cancer screening across the province.
- Palliative and End of Life Care – Help address the palliative and supportive care needs of Aboriginal people with cancer.
- Education – Increase the knowledge and awareness of cancer through education and awareness initiatives.
“Through our work over the past eleven years, we have developed a thorough understanding of the unique needs within First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities,” said Alethea Kewayosh, Director, Aboriginal Cancer Control Unit, Cancer Care Ontario. “This plan demonstrates our unified commitment to staying on the path we have paved together with our partners and building on the success that has already been achieved. Working together, we will use this plan to reduce the risk of Aboriginal people developing cancer while improving the quality of life for current and future patients.”
While many successes has been achieved since the launch of the second strategy, one of the most impactful accomplishments has been the creation of an Aboriginal Navigator network across the province. Ten Aboriginal Navigator roles have been established to help guide patients through the cancer system and provide personalized support for families and caregivers.
“There is fear associated with health issues and this is related to the increased number of community members who are dying,” said Leah Borgstrome, Aboriginal Navigator, Simcoe Muskoka Regional Cancer Program. “This is a double-edged issue because in some cases people may then decide to ignore their health concerns because they are afraid they will learn of bad news as well. However, when we are able to provide education regarding the importance of early detection, people begin to understand why ignoring the issue isn’t in their best interest.”
ACS III is a direct deliverable of the Ontario Cancer Plan IV and reflects the shared priorities of Cancer Care Ontario, the Regional Cancer Programs and Aboriginal communities. Funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, the strategy was developed jointly by key stakeholders, including Aboriginal leadership, healthcare providers, cancer survivors, Aboriginal health networks and the Joint Ontario Aboriginal Cancer Committee.
“Part of our government’s Patients First strategy is about ensuring that the highest quality care is delivered in a way that puts patients’ needs at the centre of everything we do as health care workers,” said Dr. Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “The Aboriginal Cancer Strategy is a great example of providing care that is tailored to the unique circumstances of a community that has traditionally been under-serviced and overburdened with complex health issues.”