A collaborative project between Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd., Bimaadzwin, and Indigenous health policy leaders working to transform Indigenous health outcomes across Canada.
It has long been acknowledged that Canada’s Indigenous communities face health and wellness disparities compared to non-Indigenous populations, including dramatically reduced life expectancy and significantly higher rates of chronic conditions like diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). These disparities are rooted in factors such as poverty, crowded and inadequate housing, food insecurity, unsanitary water, and inequitable health care access.
Addressing these disparities in Indigenous health and wellness should be a priority for Canada. It requires collaboration, innovation, and commitment between communities, the private, public and philanthropic groups, and government. And that’s exactly how Boehringer Ingelheim Canada is leading by example in funding health pilot projects as part of its PATHWAYS — Indigenous Health Collaborations commitment. It’s not just about the impact today, but the impact for generations to come.
Indigenous-informed and Indigenous-led
PATHWAYS is a collaboration between a leading research-driven biopharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Canada, Bimaadzwin (an Indigenous-led consulting and policy group), and Indigenous health policy leaders from across Canada. Its creation was spurred to address the lack of formal Indigenous health policy in Canada.
“The PATHWAYS framework was developed in 2018 in order to advance collaboration between Indigenous communities, private, public and philanthropic groups, and government to address Indigenous health care disparities and promote wellness,” says Mehmood Alibhai, Head of Government Affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim Canada. “The framework is an ethical, principled approach to engaging Indigenous communities in Indigenous community-led health care solutions.”
Using the framework as its guide, Boehringer Ingelheim Canada established an innovative health project fund to provide Indigenous communities with access to resources for community-driven health and wellness pilot projects to address type 2 diabetes, COPD, and interstitial lung disease.
“It’s critical to acknowledge that all the pilots we support are not linked to our medications ,” says Alibhai. “They must be devoid of any pharmaceutical and directed specifically at addressing the health care gap that the Indigenous community has identified.”
Empowering Indigenous communities
“Our mission is clear — we want to help close the health gap while focusing on relationship-building and a positive, sustainable future for all partners,” says Keith Leclaire, a Mohawk from the Kahnawake First Nation and Advisory Circle Chair for PATHWAYS. “We’re aiming to build relationships between communities, the private sector, and other partners through involvement in Indigenous-led health initiatives.”
We want to help close the health gap while focusing on relationship-building and a positive, sustainable future for all partners.
In empowering the Indigenous communities to identify and address the health care issues most impacting them, PATHWAYS is effectively advancing the idea of health and wellness from an Indigenous lens. And so far, it’s working.
From improving diabetes care throughout the Nuu-chah-nulth Nations in B.C. to expanding the application of virtual health care technology for Maskwacis residents in Alberta and beyond, PATHWAYS’ first four pilot projects have had an impressive impact on the communities served.
“All of the initial sites rated their involvement with PATHWAYS as positive and requested to extend their partnership,” says Leclaire.
PATHWAYS has since added another four projects to its roster and has big plans for the future. “Our focus now is on scalability,” says Leclaire. “With sustainability being the ultimate goal.”
To learn more about PATHWAYS, visit IndigenousHealthPathways.ca.
This article was sponsored by a leading research-based pharmaceutical company.