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Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families


Enhancing the Indigenous people’s health status in such countries as Canada is a challenge that has been existing for a long time now. The difference in the status of health of non-Indigenous and Indigenous people remains unrealistically wide (Richmond & Cook, 2016). The United Nations committee has recognized this as a concern for human rights and has further acknowledged it by the government in such countries as Canada and Australia (Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 2015). Numerous interconnecting factors are considered determinants of the disparity in health among different social groups. Similarly, human rights operate because all laws about human beings are connected and when an individual infringes on another person’s right, it affects others’ enjoyment of the said right (Richmond & Cook, 2016). Health disparities exist between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people because there are differences in infant mortality, mental health, birth rate, and infant health issues.

Canadian News Piece Excerpt Concerning Aboriginal People in Canada

In a news excerpt seeking to determine how COVID-19 has affected indigenous people, it was found that there was a difference in how the virus affects them. The article stated that “there were 1,662 active cases of COVID-19 in First Nations as of Oct. 18, with the majority of new cases reported in Saskatchewan and Alberta” (“COVID-19 in Indigenous communities,” 2021), para 2). The news piece attributes the gap to poor living conditions and low economic levels of Aboriginal people.

Literature Review

Overview of the Literature

To ensure that the literature covers every aspect of the Aboriginal people, the research pieces used, in this case, are peer-reviewed. These were preferred because they provided more information concerning the health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. The research further utilizes reliable Canadian websites to derive statistics that demonstrate the differences between the two communities. However, these websites were limited in terms of the data they provided with most of them concentrating on specific aspects of health among Aboriginal people. In general, all the pieces of research the literature review uses provide the necessary data which is significant in ensuring that the gap that exists between Aboriginal people and non-aboriginal people is reduced.

Infant Mortality Rate

The Aboriginal infant mortality rate in Canada is higher than that of non-indigenous people. Even though Canada has a higher life expectancy and low child mortality, there exist gaps between Aboriginal people and non-Indigenous people (Ireland et al., 2019). Statistics demonstrate that over 700 non-indigenous children between the age of zero and four years and about 100 Aboriginal children of the same age died in 2016 (Sharma et al., 2016). When this is interpreted, the data means that the death rate per 100,000 Aboriginal people was about 140 compared to 65 per 100,000 for non-Indigenous people (Sharma et al., 2016). In other words, this means that the difference that exists between the two communities is 75 deaths per 100,000 children. To put it in another way, this means that Aboriginal children were twice as likely to die during their early stages of development compared to non-Aboriginal children. Thus, this is a cause for concern since more children within the Aboriginal community are dying, thereby affecting their population growth.

Causes of the Difference in Infant Mortality

Three factors commonly cause the gap between Indigenous and non-Aboriginal children’s death rates. According to Ireland et al. (2019), these elements include sudden infant death syndrome, birth or pregnancy-related issues, and external injuries that affect the child. These causes are associated with the child’s age and are not distributed randomly through early childhood and infancy (Richmond & Cook, 2016). Statistics demonstrate that during the initial stages of gestation, pregnancy-related issues were responsible for approximately 80% of deaths (Ireland et al., 2019). Additionally, research ranks sudden infant death syndrome as the leading in terms of child mortality rate and is responsible for approximately 90% of deaths (Kildea et al., 2018). During the age of about one ad four years, accidents and injuries were responsible for most of the deaths. All of these are responsible for the current gap that exists between the mortality rate among Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.

Maternal Health

Aboriginal girls and women experience worse maternal health outcomes compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. Kildea et al. (2018) state that Indigenous individuals undergo significantly substandard maternal results than the non-Aboriginal group. Research further shows that adolescent girls and women were less likely to gain from health services and, as a result, had the worst outcomes in terms of their health (Romero-Sandoval et al., 2019). For instance, evidence shows that there are higher birth rates among Aboriginal adolescent girls compared to the majority population (Kildea et al., 2018). Similarly, Aboriginal women find it hard to access medical services as opposed to non-Indigenous people. The reason for this is that some Aboriginal people live in remote regions, thereby making it challenging to distribute medical services. Thus, this should be taken as a priority when health remedies are put in place to ensure that everyone accesses medical supplies.

Birth Rate

Birth outcomes among indigenous people are less favorable compared to that of non-Aboriginal people. Nevertheless, there is relatively little data to find out these facts at the national level, but this is due to the difference in cultures, customs, and languages (Shapiro et al., 2018). A review attributes some of these factors to resulting from subsequent post-term pregnancy complications, inaccurate gestational age estimation, reduced standard prenatal care access, low education levels, pre-existing medical conditions, and high multiparity rates (Vikander & Marel, 2021). The determinants surpass socioeconomic characteristics and health behaviors, which are other important factors that must be considered under this issue. Furthermore, in Canada, the government is responsible for ensuring that the Indigenous communities receive medical services.

Infant Health Issues

Infant health issues are few among non-Aboriginal people when equated to health problems of Aboriginal people. According to Ussher et al. (2016), most of these issues are preventable; however, Indigenous infants continue to suffer more compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. Furthermore, statistics show that approximately 70% of infants are admitted to hospitals in their first stages of development (Ussher et al., 2016). Additionally, about 40% of those admitted revisit the hospital more than twice compared to non-Aboriginal infants. Out of these figures, research states that most infants are hospitalized under avoidable circumstances (Shapiro et al., 2018). These statistics are alarming since Aboriginal people are at higher risk of health complications. Furthermore, it should be noted that these people should be treated equally. As a result, the infant health disparity may have dire consequences such as a reduced number of the Aboriginal population.

Implications and Recommendations

One of the factors that contribute to differences in health is Aboriginal people’s lifestyle, which is generally lower compared to non-Indigenous people. According to Wright et al. (2019), there exists a huge difference between salaries paid between the two groups. With Aboriginal people being paid less, they are unable to afford necessary services such as treatments for their infants. The other cause is the low education level among Aboriginal groups. Due to their cultural beliefs, some of these individuals do take their children to hospitals (Wright et al., 2019). They resort to traditional means of treatment, which may continue to harm the infant. In an educated community, individuals are informed and can make wise decisions about their children. Thus, it is important to ensure that Aboriginal people are well informed to ensure that they can treat their young ones.

The important solution, in this case, is to ensure that these individuals can access quality health services. Government bodies should make sure that remote areas have health amenities that Aboriginal people can Use. The advantage of this is that there would be a reduction in infant mortality, improved maternal health, increased birth rate, and better infant health outcomes Among Aboriginal people (NACM, 2019). The other significant factor suggested by White (2021) in his article referred to as the “Journey of Collaboration,” is that the nation should consider including incentives and educational programs to promote Aboriginal people’s lifestyle. Additionally, indigenous mothers should be encouraged to participate more in antenatal care during their first trimester. They should also practice safe living by making sure they do not smoke during pregnancy as this will increase the chances of survival of the unborn child.


Besides impacting the elderly, health disparities affect infant health issues, birth rates, maternal health, and infant mortality. In Canada, there the infant mortality rate is higher among Aboriginal groups compared to non-Indigenous groups. Factors such as inaccessible health facilities and discrimination are some of the causes of these issues. On the other hand, maternal health among Aboriginal groups is worse compared to that of non-Aboriginal people. Additionally, the birth rate is different among these communities with elements associated with pregnancy issues being the cause of the problem. Nevertheless, education and provision of adequate health care can reduce these gaps.


COVID-19 in Indigenous communities: What you need to know. (2021). CBC. Web.

Ireland, S., Montgomery-Andersen, R., & Geraghty, S. (2019). Indigenous Doulas: A literature review exploring their role and practice in western maternity care. Midwifery, 75, 52-58. Web.

Kildea, S., Hickey, S., Nelson, C., Currie, J., Carson, A., Reynolds, M., Wilson, K., Kruske, S., Passey, M., Roe, Y., West, R., Clifford, A., Kosiak, M., Watego, S., & Tracy, S. (2018). Birthing on country (in our community): A case study of engaging stakeholders and developing a best-practice Indigenous maternity service in an urban setting. Australian Health Review, 42(2), 230. Web.

NACM. (2019). Indigenous midwifery knowledge and skills: A framework of competencies. Web.

Richmond, C. A., & Cook, C. (2016). Creating conditions for Canadian Aboriginal health equity: The promise of healthy public policy. Public Health Reviews, 37(1). Web.

Romero-Sandoval, N., Alcázar, D. D., Pastor, J., & Martín, M. (2019). Ecuadorian infant mortality linked to socioeconomic factors during the last 30 years. Revista Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil, 19(2), 295-301. Web.

Shapiro, G. D., Sheppard, A. J., Bushnik, T., Kramer, M. S., Mashford-Pringle, A., Kaufman, J. S., & Yang, S. (2018). Adverse birth outcomes and infant mortality according to registered First Nations status and First Nations community residence across Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 109(5-6), 692-699. Web.

Sharma, S., Kolahdooz, F., Launier, K., Nader, F., June Yi, K., Baker, P., McHugh, T. L., & Vallianatos, H. (2016). Canadian Indigenous Womens perspectives of maternal health and health care services: A systematic review. Diversity & Equality in Health and Care, 13(5). Web.

Ussher, J. M., Charter, R., Parton, C., & Perz, J. (2016). Constructions and experiences of motherhood in the context of an early intervention for Aboriginal mothers and their children: Mother and healthcare worker perspectives. BMC Public Health, 16(1). Web.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission. (2015). Truth and reconciliation commission of Canada: Calls to action. Province of British Columbia. Web.

Vikander, T., & Marel, B. (2021). Many Provinces Allow Birth Alerts, Several Say the Practice is Under Review. APTN News. Web.

White, I. J. (2021). Journey of collaboration. Western Health. Web.

Wright, A. L., Jack, S. M., Ballantyne, M., Gabel, C., Bomberry, R., & Wahoush, O. (2019). Indigenous mothers’ experiences of using acute care health services for their infants. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 28(21-22), 3935-3948. Web.

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"Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families." ApeGrade, 23 Sept. 2022, apegrade.com/addressing-the-gaps-in-health-outcomes-as-experienced-by-indigenous-families/.

1. ApeGrade. "Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families." September 23, 2022. https://apegrade.com/addressing-the-gaps-in-health-outcomes-as-experienced-by-indigenous-families/.


ApeGrade. "Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families." September 23, 2022. https://apegrade.com/addressing-the-gaps-in-health-outcomes-as-experienced-by-indigenous-families/.


ApeGrade. 2022. "Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families." September 23, 2022. https://apegrade.com/addressing-the-gaps-in-health-outcomes-as-experienced-by-indigenous-families/.


ApeGrade. (2022) 'Addressing the Gaps in Health Outcomes as Experienced by Indigenous Families'. 23 September.

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