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Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis


Seminar to address the need for targeted health equity approaches for Indigenous people

13 Mar 2019

A CHEPA seminar on March 20 will examine the current Indigenous health policy environment and look at the need for targeted health equity approaches for Indigenous people.

The seminar, entitled “Shape-shifting the health equity paradigm: a story of reclamation of Indigenous strength, resilience and well-being,” will be presented by Dr. Bernice Downey, who holds cross appointments with McMaster’s School of Nursing and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences and is also the Indigenous Health Lead for the Faculty of Health Science

Dr. Downey says that health equity is upheld as a way to assist people to reach their full potential and receive high quality healthcare that is fair and appropriate to them and their needs. Where they live, what they have and who they are is not supposed to matter. However, Indigenous populations continue to experience lower life expectancy and greater infant mortality with significant gaps in health outcomes and access to health care than non-Indigenous people.

In order to address this health inequality, she says it is critical that policy and decision-makers who are engaged in developing and implementing decisions, plans and actions are informed about unique factors related to Indigenous population health.  In addition, equity- based health and social policy must reflect a targeted approach for Indigenous populations, including their diverse knowledge, practices and beliefs about well-being.  In her presentation, she will describe how an Indigenous ‘IND-equity’ framework can support these aspirations.

Downey is a woman of Ojibwe and Celtic heritage, a mother and a grandmother. She is a medical anthropologist with research interests in health, health literacy and Indigenous Traditional knowledge and health/research system reform for Indigenous populations.

She graduated from the University of Ottawa with her Post-RN Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree in 2005. She obtained both a master's degree and PhD in Anthropology and Health (Medical Anthropology) from McMaster in 2009 and 2014, respectively.

She was recently awarded the Heart & Stroke Foundation - Canadian Institute of Health Research - Chair in Indigenous Women’s Heart and Brain Health.  She was one of two Indigenous leads for the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health, Canadian Reference Group, and was  Director and Research Associate of the Well Living House - Centre for Research on Inner City Health at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.  She was a member of the Canadian Institute of Health Research - Institute of Aboriginal Health, Advisory Board for six years.  

The seminar will be held on Wednesday, March 20 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in CRL-B119. All are welcome to attend.

It will also be available remotely online through WebEx. To join, please copy and paste the link below into your browser. The password is: CHEPAseminar

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