Nova Scotia

C.B. First Nations to link health info with MSI

Five Cape Breton First Nations and the province have agreed to link health information with the MSI health card registry to improve the health of Mi'kmaq people in Cape Breton.

Five Cape Breton First Nations and the province have agreed to create a new registry in an effort to improve the health of Mi'kmaq people in Cape Breton.

Health Minister Maureen MacDonald and Mi'kmaq chiefs signed the agreement in Halifax Wednesday.

The Unama'ki Client Registry will create a list of health card numbers from the  MSI Health Card Number Registry to compile information related to the health issues of First Nations poeple.

It's a project that could be copied elsewhere if it proves successful.

"This agreement is the first of its kind in Canada," said Waycobah Chief Morley Googoo.

Googoo is also the regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

MacDonald said information obtained from health cards used by First Nations people would be a huge boost to researchers.

The project will gather "health information from doctor or hospital visits as well as information on pregnancies, births, cancers, heart conditions that affect Cape Breton Mi'kmaq people," said MacDonald.

The registry will help Mi'kmaq people better understand patterns of disease and injury, and their use of health services, according to a news release.

Privacy concerns were a secondary issue for some chiefs whose communities are struggling to overcome an epidemics of diabetes and mental illness.

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said the new registry would be successful only if the information helps more aboriginal people reach old age.

"The problems faced by our communities are devastating," said Denny. "Our challenge now is to use the knowledge and information generated through this partnership to reduce the burden of disease and disability that affects our people."

Provincial and First Nations officials said the new registry will take the guesswork out of how to target health funding.

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