Indigenous people travel long distances to give birth compared to non-Indigenous people

Indigenous people living in rural Canada are 16 times more likely to have to travel 200 km or more to give birth than non-Indigenous people, underscoring the need for better access to birthing facilities and providers for delivery. Indigenous families in rural areas, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Journal of the Canadian Medical Association) https: //www.cmaj.California/search/do I/ten.1503 /cmaj.201903.

Using data from the Canadian Maternity Experiences Survey (MES), this study included 3,100 mothers living in rural and small town Canada and weighted the sample to represent 31,100 mothers, for a total of 1,800 Aboriginal mothers and 29,300 non-Aboriginal mothers. First Nations women living on reserve were excluded from the MES. Aboriginal mothers were younger and were more likely to be single, to have less education, to have an income of less than $ 30,000 per year, to have been abused and to have been hospitalized. during pregnancy than non-native mothers.

Taking these factors into account, the study found that in rural areas, 23% of Indigenous people walked 200 km or more to give birth, compared to just 2% of non-Indigenous people.

“Our results show an indigenous and non-indigenous disparity in geographic access to childbirth in rural areas and suggest that this disparity is not primarily due to medical complications of pregnancy, birth complications requiring childbirth by. Cesarean section or other birth complications, ”writes Dr. Janet Smylie. , St. Michael’s Hospital, Unity Health Toronto and the University of Toronto, with the co-authors.

In Canada, Aboriginal people are more likely to live in rural and remote areas than in urban areas. The study explains this, and the authors suggest that this gap in travel distances can be attributed to a lack of birthing facilities and providers near rural indigenous communities – a legacy of colonial policies that prioritized to non-Indigenous institutions to locate quality health care facilities. .

“Given the magnitude of the Indigenous and non-Indigenous disparity in access to near-home births identified by our study, the documented negative impacts of out-of-home births for Indigenous families and Existing recommendations, there is a clear need to advance policies that support more equitable geographic access to childbirth for indigenous families in rural areas, ”the authors write.

The authors suggest that support for Indigenous midwives and other health professionals as well as the involvement of Indigenous leaders and communities in the planning and delivery of health services could increase access to childbirth closer to home. home for indigenous peoples living in rural and remote areas.


“Long-Distance Travel for Childbirth Among Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Pregnant People in Canada” is published on June 21, 2021.

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