• AFN Marks World Health Day with Call to Action to Fight Diabetes in First Nations Communities
Apr 11, 2016

April 7, 2016

(Ottawa, ON):  Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde said that World Health Day, marked on April 7 with this year’s theme being “Beat diabetes”, is an opportunity to take action to address the diabetes epidemic in First Nations communities.

“The epidemic of diabetes among First Nations people stems from a number of factors including our loss of land and access to traditional foods, poverty, poor housing and inequitable health care," said AFN National Chief Bellegarde.  “On this World Health Day is a time to remember that we must take steps each and every day to reduce the epidemic of diabetes among First Nations people. We must commit to ensuring the investments in the federal budget make a real impact in our communities and for our people living in urban areas.  First Nations involvement in the design of solutions that drive change is essential to close the gap in health.”

Type 2 diabetes remains one of the AFN’s highest priorities in health as the situation in First Nations communities is profound and growing.  The World Diabetes Federation reports that First Nation people represent 45% of youth with new onset type 2 diabetes in Canada.  A recent study out of Nova Scotia found that the prevalence of diabetes in Aboriginal people aged 20-39 is five times higher than the general population.  Given the urgency of the situation, the AFN is working with Health Canada to ensure prevention and health promotion initiatives reflect community priorities and are driven by and for First Nations.  

AFN Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, who oversees the national Health portfolio for the AFN, said: “Improving the health of our communities is my main priority and I will continue to advocate for immediate improvements to health services for those communities across Canada that suffer Third World poverty. We are currently working towards a Health Accord with the federal, territorial and provincial governments that will increase resources to address overall health issues such as homecare, mental health and chronic diseases, like diabetes. As we acknowledge World Health Day today let us note that both federal and provincial health ministers agreed that the current health inequities experienced by First Nations should not exist in a country as wealthy as Canada.”
World Health Day is a global health awareness day marked every year on April 7 under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization.

The Assembly of First Nation is the national organization representing First Nation citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.


For more information please contact:

Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer,
613-241-6789, ext. 382; 613-292-0857 or