KITCHENER, Ont. – Mennonite Central Committee Ontario (MCCO) is collecting and sending up to 2,000 H1N1 Response Kits to northern Ontario for distribution in remote First Nation communities.
“Staff in our MCC Timmins office keep reminding us southerners how our neighbours in First Nation communities experience a much higher risk when it comes to infectious diseases such as H1N1,” says Rick Cober Bauman, MCCO Executive Director.
“No matter what conclusion we have drawn about H1N1 or pandemics, the truth is that remote and isolated northern aboriginal communities, with over-crowded housing and poor sanitation systems, do have more to fear than we do in the south.”
The World Health Organization has named Indigenous People among the top three at-risk groups most likely to contract the H1N1 virus.
According to the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (ANAC), the following groups are most at risk in First Nations communities: aboriginal youth, pregnant women, and those with pre-existing health conditions. Of the aboriginal people living in Ontario’s Far North, 70 per cent are under the age of 30, and approximately 50 per cent of these are between the ages of 0 – 19, making many vulnerable to the virus.
MCCO received a request from community leadership in northern Ontario for items that would help reduce the H1N1 risk among members in their communities. After consultation with physicians, and with First Nation Health Authorities, an H1N1 Response Kit was developed to work at preventing the virus. The kit contains: hand sanitizer, liquid soap, packets of tissue, a hand towel and a face cloth.
Individuals, churches, organizations and schools in Ontario’s north and south have been invited to collect the kit items and bring them to their nearest MCC office in Ontario where they will be placed into a drawstring bag and then shipped to the Timmins office for further distribution to First Nation communities.
“With the threat of the H1N1 pandemic hitting our northern communities, we find ourselves in a very vulnerable position. While we do our best with the limited resources that we have, we appreciate the efforts of an organization such as the Mennonite Central Committee who have offered to assist us in our time of need,” said Mushkegowuk Grand Chief, Stan Louttit.
For specific details regarding the contents of a H1N1 Response Kit, go to mcco.ca