Injuries are a major cause of disability, poor health and death in many First Nations communities. For example, results from the 2002/03 First Nations Regional Longitudinal Health Survey (RHS) show that half (49.5%) of youth (age 12-17) living in a First Nations community experienced some type of injury in the past year; the same rate for is about 1 in 3 for young adults, 18 to 34.
The AFN recognizes that the nature of injuries and their causes are complex; injuries are often the result of individual behaviour, the culture of safety, and the physical environment. These factors are compounded by socioeconomic disparities which increase the risk of morbidity and mortality from injuries when they occur.
Safe and healthy First Nations communities that are injury-free
A comprehensive approach is needed to address the burden of injuries in First Nations communities; one which addresses the issues of risk behaviour in addition to the contextual issues which place First Nations at greater risk for injuries. The AFN strategy on injury prevention has four pillars:
- Raising awareness of the significance of injuries and their consequences among all First Nations. This may involve a communications campaign designed to improve knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about injuries (please refer to our communications strategy for injury prevention for additional information).
- Enabling First Nations and First Nations communities to carry out injury prevention surveillance, initiatives, and programming.
- Engaging external partners who have a mandate to address injuries and experience in delivering effective injury prevention programs and services. The goal here is to fill in program gaps that cannot be filled locally, by First Nations communities (more information can be found here: partnerships in injury prevention).
- Continued work to improve the physical and structural environment of First Nations communities. This work is within the larger mandate of the AFN.