Vancouver Island Health Authority president and CEO Howard Waldner (left) and Chief David Bob

Vancouver Island Health Authority signs off on aboriginal health plan extension

The 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan updates VIHA’s 2006 plan and encompasses more than a year of engagement and collaborative work

After suffering a stroke a year ago, Chief David Bob has seen the health care system from all sides now.

“So, I got to see both ends,” Bob said Tuesday at a ceremony to sign a new Aboriginal Health Plan for the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Bob is the co-chair of the Aboriginal Health Council  and was involved in the development of the plan advocating for the needs of aboriginal people in the Island’s health care system.

“And then I end up in the hospital and see what the nurses and doctors go through,” Bob said.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority and its Aboriginal partners unveiled the health authority’s 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan at a special signing ceremony held at Quinsam Centre in the traditional territory of We Wai Kai Nation/Cape Mudge located in Campbell River.

The plan, entitled Remember the Past, Reflect on the Present, and Build a Healthy Future, will serve as a guide for VIHA’s Board, leadership and staff in their work to continue to improve the health status of Aboriginal residents.

The 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan updates VIHA’s 2006 plan and encompasses more than a year of engagement and collaborative working partnerships between aboriginal partners from across Vancouver Island and VIHA leaders and staff.

“Improving the health of aboriginal people is one of VIHA’s strategic priorities and the 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan will help us accomplish this priority,” said Don Hubbard, VIHA Board Chair.

“This plan also reinforces our commitment to health services delivery that reflects and honours the input and cultural beliefs of Aboriginal residents.”

The 2012 Plan was signed by Waldner and Bob at a ceremony and feast hosted by VIHA Aboriginal Health in the We Wai Kai Nation/Cape Mudge at the Quinsum Centre.

“All aboriginal people on Vancouver Island need and deserve access to quality, timely health care services that meet their unique cultural and geographical needs and that is the fundamental purpose behind the Aboriginal Health Plan,” said Waldner.

“The health authority is committed to supporting the six strategic themes that are identified in the Aboriginal Health Plan with the goal of providing health services that meet the needs of aboriginal residents and improving the health status of aboriginal people living on Vancouver Island.”

Statistics show that aboriginal people are more likely to face significant health challenges, to suffer from chronic diseases such as diabetes, kidney disease and heart failure, and to die prematurely from a variety of causes when compared to other Island residents.

They are also more likely to have trouble accessing health care due to poverty, geographic isolation and the complexity of health care service delivery.

“Today’s signing of the VIHA 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan strengthens our commitment to share our wisdom and vision with VIHA to develop culturally appropriate and accessible health care services for aboriginal residents which in turn, will make First Nations communities on Vancouver Island among the healthiest in the province,” said Chief Bob.

“Together we can make change happen.”

The 2012 Aboriginal Health Plan can be viewed on the VIHA website at: http://www.viha.ca/aboriginal_health/ABORIGINAL_HEALTH_PLAN.htm