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H1N1 drugs available to First Nations, official says

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/8/2009 (4023 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A senior Manitoba Health official said its stockpile of H1N1 antiviral drugs was made available to Health Canada for distribution among the province's First Nation communities.

Terry Goertzen, an assistant deputy minister of health, said Ottawa did not request from Manitoba more than the 45 courses, or 450 doses, of Tamiflu it was given in mid-May to deal with an H1N1 outbreak on reserves.

"When it comes to health care on First Nation communities, (Ottawa) takes the lead," Goertzen said, adding no special requests for additional antiviral drugs were made to deal with the outbreak in the Island Lake communities.

Chiefs from Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point are demanding to know why their communities received next to no antiviral drugs when the northwestern Ontario First Nation of Sandy Lake was given 1,800 doses to control an H1N1 outbreak there.

Dozens of people were flown from Manitoba's Island Lake communities on medical transports to Winnipeg in May for treatment of the H1N1 virus. There were 24 confirmed cases of H1N1 in St. Theresa Point and another seven confirmed cases from Garden Hill.

But in Sandy Lake, antiviral medication was distributed among residents and no one was flown out for medical treatment. A day after the outbreak, 500 doses of Tamiflu were taken to the community and within three days close to 1,800 doses were available for Sandy Lake residents who displayed symptoms.

St. Theresa Point Chief David McDougall said only one or two residents received antiviral medication during the outbreak in May.

Health Canada did not respond to questions on why an adequate supply of antiviral drugs had not been provided to the Island Lake communities.

McDougall said health experts are predicting another H1N1 outbreak in the fall but the Island Lake communities have not been told if they will be given an adequate supply of antiviral drugs.

McDougall said the health council for the four Island Lake communities is drafting a plan in the event of another H1N1 outbreak, adding he expects the chiefs will see a draft at a meeting later this week.

Federal officials confirmed that most of the confirmed Aboriginal cases of the H1N1 virus occurred in Manitoba and health officials here stated that more than half of the confirmed cases in the province were from Aboriginal communities.

There have been seven deaths in Manitoba linked to the H1N1 virus and 867 confirmed cases.




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