Dr. Judith Bartlett
BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
Although the Métis are an integral part of
Manitoba's history, they have largely been
invisible when it comes to their health and
well-being. That's not to say they haven't
received basic health care, says Dr. Judith
Bartlett, a Métis physician and associate
professor in the Department of Community
Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba's
Faculty of Medicine, and adjunct scientist
at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy
(MCHP). But the Métis haven't been the focus
of any substantial health research in Manitoba.
That is until Bartlett and other researchers at
MCHP, Manitoba Health, and the Manitoba
Métis Federation (MMF) came together to
produce a comprehensive health study that is
also uniquely Métis.
The Profile of Métis Health Status and
Healthcare Utilization in Manitoba: A Population-based Study features health data
from approximately 93,000 Métis and looks
at 80 different areas of health. Among other
things, the study shows health care for Métis
people could be much better. "If you look at
premature mortality, Métis are 21 percent
higher (than the general population), so
they're dying too soon," she says.
But Bartlett wasn't satisfied with crunching
numbers. "There's not much point in that
document if it's going to sit on a shelf," she
says. The data needs to be explained, and that's
where the Métis became involved. Bartlett's
MMF team set out to develop Knowledge
Network discussion tables involving Métis
people and the health-care system across the
province to illustrate the data with meaningful
stories about the Métis people's economic,
social and political situations. They also wanted
to learn how chronic diseases like diabetes were
affecting their health and well-being. "You've
got the data, which is one piece. Then you've
got the experience of the citizens, the regional
health authorities and MMF community
services. It gives a really full picture," she says.
The study - referred to as the Métis Health
Atlas - is just a start. Now, Bartlett and other
stakeholders are using Knowledge Networks to
help address the Métis people's health needs.
"The goal for Métis is to contribute to the
health system's understanding of Métis health,"
she says. "Everything that's done is a win-win
type of approach"
Back to "Leading the way"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave