Health and wellness
(CBC/Eye on the Arctic, 31 January 2013) -- Doctors from across Canada and Greenland are in Iqaluit this week to discuss tuberculosis in Nunavut. The territory continues to have the highest infection rates in Canada, with 100 cases in 2010, 74 in 2011 and 79 last year. Nunavut's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Maureen Baikie, said there are still a lot of TB cases in Nunavut. She said gathering experts together now will help improve the TB programs delivered in the territory. "For example, we've looked at the use of BCG vaccine, we're getting some advice on some of the new tests that are out there for TB. So all of it will be used as we examine our TB program," said Baikie. One of those programs is Taima TB, which started in Iqaluit in 2011 with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated as a partner.
Posted 1 February 2013; 8:16:39 AM. Permalink
(Postmedia News, 1 April 2012) -- New flame retardants meant to replace their toxic predecessors are showing up in the air around the Great Lakes in increasing concentrations and travelling as far north as the Arctic. These new findings raise a red flag that these chemicals need to be more closely examined to see if they accumulate in the environment and animals, according to Hayley Hung, a research scientist at Environment Canada, who found concentrations of tetrabromobenzoate (TBB) and tetrabromophthalate (TBPH) in both Canada's High Arctic and the Tibetan Plateau. "It's not just a localized problem," said Hung. "(They) could become a global pollutant." Hung said TBB and TBPH are among the components in Firemaster flame retardants that are used in everyday objects such as car upholstery, computer equipment, carpeting and polyurethane foam. They get into the air when they're applied (usually sprayed) onto products. The two compounds are meant to replace poly brominated diphenylether (PBDE) flame retardants after these were found to be toxic in the mid-2000s. (PBDEs have been detected in, for example, blood samples and breast milk and some studies suggest a connection between PBDE exposure and reduced fertility in women.) Hung's study as well as research by Ronald Hites at Indiana University shows particles from TBB and TBPH in air samples from cities and remote areas.
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:40:53 PM. Permalink
(Alaska Dispatch, 1 April 2012) -- Hundreds of doctors, optometrists, dentists and veterinarians will fan out across 16 villages in western Alaska beginning April 9 in a joint military and medical readiness exercise called Operation Arctic Care. This will be the 18th year of the program coordinated by the Norton Sound Health Corporation. “The medical care provided by the doctors and nurses is usually unavailable in the villages,” Pattie Lillie of the Norton Sound Health Corporation said in a press release. “Health aides and mid-level providers see patients in the village and treat to the degree they can, and anything beyond their scope is referred to Nome or Anchorage. Having a doctor on site for even four or five days can make a difference.” Some 250 government and military medical professionals will fan out from Nome to smaller villages. Most are only accessible by air, so the Alaska National Guard will use an array of aircraft to ferry the medical workers and supplies in and out. Among them: UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters; C-23 Sherpas, a small military transport plane; C-17 Globemasters, a four-engine military transport plane able to carry large equipment; and C-130 Hercules, a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. “The military gets an opportunity to conduct deployment training in a non-threatening environment,” Lt. Col. Sharolyn Lange, task force medical commander, said in a press release. “And we have the opportunity to assist underserved citizens living in rural Alaska.”
Posted 2 April 2012; 2:12:00 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review Daily News, 28 June 2011) -- Icelandic healthcare clinics have begun to look for foreign physicians as Icelandic physicians are not returning to Iceland after completing their specialist education. Indian doctors have been hired by the hospital in Akureyri and more are expected to come. “We have advertised for physicians and specialists overseas and been able to recruit qualified individuals in most cases. However, not all positions have been filled,” Gróa Björk Jóhannesdóttir, a stand-in director at Akureyri hospital, told Morgunbladid. She said the hospital would consider hiring more foreign specialists. Gróa continued to say that “it’s probably been about 30 to 35 years since the first Indian came to practice medicine here and in the last 5 to 6 years more physicians have come to Akureyri.” Indian doctors are well educated and they fill the necessary positions the hospital has not been able to fill with Icelandic specialists. The hospital would prefer to hire Icelandic-speaking physicians whenever possible. In recent editions, Morgunbladid has reported on the lack of physicians in Icelandic hospitals and clinics and the problems arising from fewer and fewer Icelandic doctors returning to Iceland following their specialist education. Loss of local specialists is also a growing problem.
Posted 1 July 2011; 12:49:19 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 May 2011) -- Type 2 diabetes, once considered rare in Inuit communities, is now comparable to rates in the general population, researchers have found. The Inuit Health Survey was conducted as part of International Polar Year to help fill in gaps on health data for Canadian Inuit, who requested the information on their people. The new findings showed 28 per cent of Inuit were overweight, 35 per cent were obese and nearly 44 per cent had what is considered an unhealthy waist size based on standards for Caucasians, according to the study published in this week's Canadian Medical Association Journal. "Long time ago my parents didn't know anything about diabetes," recalls Flossie Oakoak, a 62-year-old Inuk originally from Cambridge Bay who has Type 2 diabetes. "When there was no white man here, there was only caribou, char. Most of the people are getting bigger and bigger." Oakoak now lives in Yellowknife, where she watches her diet, passing on dessert and opting not to cave in to a craving for pizza hot from an oven over lunch at a downtown women's centre. For the study, researchers from McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto looked at data on 2,595 randomly selected participants in 1,901 households in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Labrador to understand the prevalence of high blood sugar levels.
Posted 10 May 2011; 2:49:21 PM. Permalink
(Health Canada news release 2011-25, 16 February 2011) -- NUUK, Greenland - Today, a delegation representing Canada signed a declaration with other Arctic states. This declaration is a commitment between the Arctic Health Ministers to work collaboratively on circumpolar health issues and information sharing. "Circumpolar countries share similar health priorities and often face significant logistical, financial, and technological challenges in overcoming health disparities," said Minister Aglukkaq. "Today's meeting was an important opportunity to discuss and share best practices with other Arctic countries facing similar health challenges among Arctic residents." The Arctic Health Ministers Meeting co-hosted by Denmark and Greenland was held in Nuuk, Greenland, on February 16. The meeting focused on circumpolar health cooperation, promoting healthy lifestyles and health care delivery in the Arctic. Canada's participation in this meeting complements the objectives of Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy and Northern Strategy. The meeting was attended by a Canadian delegation which included representatives from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Permanent Participants to the Arctic Council and academic experts. This inaugural Arctic Health Ministers' meeting aimed to enhance circumpolar partnerships, and to identify ways to collectively build the evidence-base circumpolar nations need to enhance policies that address existing and emerging Arctic health issues. The declaration reaffirms the commitment of Arctic Health Ministers to provide strong leadership that will enable government officials, health professionals, and community organizations to strengthen circumpolar collaboration in health promotion, disease surveillance and culturally appropriate health services.
Posted 16 February 2011; 10:58:27 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/The Canadian Press via Toronto Star, 14 February 2011) -- Last year's outbreak of tuberculosis in Nunavut, the worst ever since the region became a territory, is a problem for the whole country, not just the North, says an editorial published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. One of the editorial's authors calls the spread of a disease virtually unknown in the south an international embarrassment. “We are a rich, developed nation that has the resources to solve the problem in Nunavut if we choose to employ them,” says Dr. Matthew Stanbrook, a respirologist at Toronto Western Hospital. “The fact that we have failed to do so, not just once but over a century, should be an embarrassment to every Canadian.” The editorial reports that Nunavut suffered 100 new and active cases of tuberculosis in 2010. That's the highest number in the territory's 10-year history and represents an infection rate 62 times the Canadian average. Worse, most of the new cases occurred in younger patients, suggesting the disease is being actively spread. “Nothing will change without the federal and territorial governments coming together with Nunavut communities to address the current outbreak,” says the editorial. “This is not just Nunavut's problem — it is Canada's problem.”
Posted 15 February 2011; 3:51:14 PM. Permalink
(Alex Demarban/The Arctic Sounder, 8 February 2011) -- A federal disease-fighting program in Alaska recently doubled its laboratory space, a move designed to further protect residents from deadly pathogens, including bioterrorism threats. Officials with the Arctic Investigations Program in Anchorage, part of the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unveiled the $2.3 million renovation and addition in Anchorage, near the Alaska Native Medical Center, late last month. For decades, the CDC has played a critical role in preventing the spread of disease in Alaska. More labs will lead to more advances, especially in rural Alaska, said officials attending the ceremony. "This lab is really our eyes and ears for any kind of infectious problems that come up in Alaska," said Dr. Ted Mala, head of the traditional healing clinic at Southcentral Foundation, after the ribbon-cutting. "They survey all our villages and all our lands and give us early warnings of what's going on and what to look for, along with the state divisions of epidemiology and public health." "What's important here is this lab will mean more testing, more surveillance, more early warning," said Mala, an Inupiaq enrolled in Buckland's tribal government. "The more they know, the more they'll tell all the doctors and nurses and clinicians in the state. It's all a win-win." The CDC has been fighting disease in Alaska with the Indian Health Service since 1948, said Mala. One of the biggest victories may have come in the war against Hepatitis B. Alaska Natives once suffered the country's highest rates of the liver disease, as well as Hepatitis A, but now have the lowest rates thanks to vaccines introduced in the 1980s and 1990s, said Brian McMahon, a liver specialist at the Alaska Native Medical Center.
Posted 9 February 2011; 4:56:07 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 2 January 2011) -- Unusually many individuals, 21, were diagnosed with a tuberculosis infection in Iceland in 2010, compared to around nine persons in 2009 and six in 2008. Sixteen of the 21 TB patients, or 71 percent, were of foreign origin, most of whom came from Asia. Those diagnosed were aged between 20 and 70 and their average age was 34, as stated in Farsóttafréttir, a newsletter from the Directorate of Health. No multiresistant TB surfaced this year but one Icelander was diagnosed with bovine TB, which is usually found in cattle. It is unclear how the person was infected; there is no known bovine TB infection in Icelandic cattle at the moment. It should be pointed out that only ten percent of those infected with TB have to be treated for the disease.
Posted 2 January 2011; 10:54:15 AM. Permalink
(Loren Grush/FoxNews, 4 November 2010) -- On October 26, 2,000 residents of Earth’s northernmost town watched the sun set. The next time they’ll see it rise? Sometime in February. In an attempt to lighten the Norwegian town’s mood about the forthcoming four months of night, Philips has launched a science experiment it calls “Wake Up the Town.” And anyone who's complained about the brief daylight hours in winter will want to know how it works. Extended nighttime is an annual occurrence for the residents of Longyearbyen, Norway — Earth’s northernmost town. Located at 78 degrees north latitude in the Arctic circle, Longyearbyen experiences a phenomenon called Polar Night, in which the town remains in perpetual darkness for four months each winter. The town’s inhabitants may be accustomed to waking up in the dark, but the lack of daylight has a substantial impact on their daily life and health. In an attempt to cut through the seemingly endless night, global electronics corporation Philips has distributed its latest product — the Philips Wake-up Light — to around 250 volunteers in the Arctic town. The product aims to help them wake up in the morning as well as improve their general way of life. “There’s a lack of understanding about the benefits of waking up to light,” Alexandra Kedward, a global product manager at Philips, told FoxNews.com. “Our bodies are accustomed to being up with the sun. So through this initiative, we were looking to raise awareness of the importance of light therapy.” The Wake-up Light essentially simulates the sunrise, gently increasing the amount of light in the room — the body senses this and awakes naturally. So far, the volunteers have had their lights for only two and a half weeks, but Kedward expects the overall results to be overwhelmingly positive. “We did ask the community of residents who were taking part to validate the experiment,” Kedward said. “Seventy-two percent of them told us that waking up is a struggle during the winter period, and 94 percent expected the Philips Wake-up Light to have a positive impact on their daily lives.” ... And the experience isn’t just limited to those who live in the town. The experiment goes one step further by incorporating film and social networking elements to connect Longyearbyen’s residents to the rest of the globe. Internet users can follow the progress of the town and communicate with the participants up until their next sunrise. Andersen says that for such a remote town in which polar bears outnumber residents, the connection to the outside world is really inspiring. “It’s nice because this place is so special, and of course we like to talk about our island and this Wake-up Light,” said Andersen. “It’s a real life study that cannot happen anywhere else in the world.”
Posted 24 November 2010; 3:48:25 PM. Permalink
(Canadian Medical Association Journal press release via Physorg.com, 1 November 2010) -- To improve health care in Canada's north, Canada would benefit from enhanced relationships with other circumpolar regions, states an analysis published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal). The article looks at health and health care in Canada's north from a broader perspective across the circumpolar region which includes Alaska in the US, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Greenland and others. Significant inequities in health care exist across circumpolar countries, where some such as Scandinavian nations have healthy populations in the north while others, like Nunavut in Canada's north and Alaska, have lower health outcomes despite high health expenditures. Per capita health expenditures in Nunavut are the highest in the world, with almost 30% of the territory's GDP going to health care expenditures. "The current prominence of Arctic issues provides a window of opportunity for Canadian health policy-makers, service providers and researchers to strengthen circumpolar collaboration and partnerships, analyze our commonalities and differences, and adopt best practices to improve our northern health care system and the health of the population," writes Dr. T. Kue Young from the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, and Susan Chatwood, the Institute for Circumpolar Health Research in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Posted 1 November 2010; 11:25:20 AM. Permalink
(The Copenhagen Post via JP.DK/News in English, 3 June 2010) -- A survey carried out in the remote village of Kuummiut on Greenland’s east coast revealed that 43 percent of its inhabitants were at risk of developing the dreaded lung disease. It is estimated that as many as 8 percent of adults infected with TB risk contracting the disease, while a quarter of children and adolescents infected with the bacteria are likely to develop full-blown tuberculosis. The nearby Tasiilaq Hospital is currently investigating how many of the settlement’s 360 inhabitants need to be treated immediately or require preventative care only. Tuberculosis has been a problem for centuries in Greenland but a campaign started by Danish authorities in 1955 managed to reduce the number of TB cases by 90 percent, bringing it into line with the rates of the disease seen in Denmark. However, since 1990 the semi-autonomous territory has seen a steep rise in the number of people contracting TB. According to Greenland’s Semitsiaq newspaper, there has been an average of 73 cases annually during the last five years, which places Greenland on a par with several African and Asian countries.
Posted 4 June 2010; 11:32:23 PM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 20 May 2010) -- QUEBEC CITY - Many of the 280,000 indigenous peoples of Russia’s north are watching their communities and cultures teeter on the brink of extinction as economic hardships force them to leave their homelands and migrate in droves to the city. Many of those who remain behind have abandoned traditional values and become “profit-driven in their search for compensation for their traditional lands,” Larissa Abryutina of the Russian Association of the Indigenous People of the North said May 18 in a presentation to a conference at Laval University on sustainable development and sovereignty in the Arctic. Like other speakers, Abryutina revealed a striking irony: that it’s much easier to find bad examples of development and self-determination in the Arctic than good ones. Abryutina, a Chukchi, is herself a casualty of the desperate choices facing northern Russian indigenous people: a doctor of radiology, she left her home region of Chukotka due to its declining standard of living. Since the 1990s, and the fall of the Soviet Union’s Communist government, things have gone from bad to worse for northern indigenous people in Russia, Abryutina said. And their life expectancy has fallen to between 40 and 45 years due to the environmental pollution, alcoholism and poor health care.
Posted 21 May 2010; 1:52:29 PM. Permalink
(Globe and Mail, 16 May 2010) -- Greenland faces many of the same challenges as Nunavut. Both have small, dispersed populations spread over cold expanses of land. Both are territories where indigenous peoples have advanced far in self-determination, and both struggle with social ills. Yet infant mortality – one of the key indicators of a successful health-care system – is dramatically lower in Greenland. At 15.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, Nunavut's infant mortality rate is double Greenland's – and nearly four times the Canadian average. Canada can do much better. Inuit children in Nunavut also have the highest rate of hospital admission for lower respiratory tract infections in the world. These statistics are a black eye for Canada. Every Inuit life should be precious, as precious as the lives of other Canadians. The government of Nunavut, and the people of that territory, must confront the reasons for these terrible health outcomes. Canada, and Nunavut in particular, should look to Greenland, which has succeeded in reducing its infant mortality rate. People there are taking responsibility for their health, and improving their lifestyle. Greenland has specific programs to remove some of the underlying causes of infant mortality. For example, the country has a successful anti-smoking campaign. Instead of advocating a complete ban on smoking, it educates women not to smoke in front of their children and babies. There has also been a gradual improvement in housing, and a decline in the average number of inhabitants in one dwelling. ... Canada, which boasts one of the best standards of living in the world, should not tolerate such unacceptably poor health practices. Nor should Nunavut. The territory can use Greenland as a model and break the silence around self-harm. Honest debates around the harm of smoking, drug use, and sexual abuse, will help people learn how to parent better, and raise healthier children.
Posted 17 May 2010; 11:18:06 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 10 May 2010) -- The federal government is spending $6.9 million to expand a program that trains family doctors for remote northern communities in Manitoba. The money will allow the medical residency program at the University of Manitoba to grow to 25 positions from 10. Medical students in training have to spend eight months in remote communities and commit to at least two years of remote practice after graduation. The expanded program will help address a shortage of northern doctors, said federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, who made the announcement in Winnipeg on Monday as part of National Nursing Week.
Posted 11 May 2010; 9:43:05 AM. Permalink
(Paul Goble/Moldova.org, 24 April 2010)** -- The dying off of the numerically small peoples of the Russian North, already taking place because of economic development and climate change, is being accelerated by the mishandling of nuclear materials at power stations and military bases in that region and especially by the lack of secure storage facilities for nuclear wastes there. In a study of this problem published this week, Sergey Rykov says that the impact of radiation on the lives of these nationalities is so great that it is time to think about creating a Red Book not just for animals and plants but for threatened and now disappearing peoples like the Yukagirs, the Ens, and the Negidals, each of which numbers fewer than 1,000 people. Many people have written about the way in which the economic development of the Russian North and climate changes have affected these peoples in a negative way, Rykov says, but few have focused on the ways in which radioactive materials are killing off these peoples. In the waters off the Kola Peninsula, there are ships which “up to now are used for storing radioactive wastes and spent nuclear fuel.” Some of these are only “two kilometers” from places where people live. As a result, “drinking water brings death,” although few are prepared to talk about it, and many residents do not even know they are at risk. Murmansk oblast, Rykov continues, has the largest number of nuclear reactors per person “not only for Russia as a whole but even for the entire world.” There are 123 nuclear ships in the Northern Fleet, with a total of 235 reactors. In addition, there are nuclear weapons and nuclear power stations. What is making the current situation especially serious, Rykov says, is the processing of decommissioning nuclear-powered ships there and in the Far East. On the Kola Peninsula alone, there are now a minimum of five “dumps” where spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste are being deposited, often with little concern to the surround environment or population.
Posted 25 April 2010; 6:16:59 PM. Permalink
(Stephen Hume/The Vancouver Sun, 15 March 2010) -- In a landscape where the only plants are tundra lichens, a traditional Inuit diet of seal meat, caribou and fish makes more sense than one based on imported fresh fruit and vegetables. But a column arguing as much earned sarcastic scoffing from some vegetarians. I have no quarrel with vegetarians — I happily live with one — and I share the view of many that most arguments supporting the commercial seal hunt in Atlantic Canada are largely bogus. Unless you live in the Arctic, the only reason for wearing sealskin is cosmetic. On that the animal-rights advocates have a strong point — a gruesome slaughter of seals just to provide for fashion elites does seem ethically untenable. However, the consumption of seal meat in the traditional Inuit diet and the sale of pelts from that subsistence hunting is another matter and deserves defending. Among the points made in my original column was an observation that wild meat offered a nutritious bargain to Inuit families. Furthermore, I wrote, a diet rich in sea mammals and fish was healthier than many foods imported from the urban south with their attendant carbon footprint.
Posted 15 March 2010; 2:15:50 PM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 31 January 2010) -- Over 200 children, most of them younger than three years, have been hospitalized with acute intestinal infection in the Magadan Region in the Russian Far East, Rossiya TV channel reported on Sunday. Doctors believe the children were poisoned after eating imported fruits - bananas, apples and citruses - largely supplied from China, the TV channel reported. Local health authorities are taking measures to contain the spread of the virus, the TV channel said. Doctors say the virus has affected whole families in the area, with children hit hardest, the TV channel said. The infection is likely to subside in spring when navigation will allow domestic food supplies into the subarctic region, the TV channel reported.
Posted 31 January 2010; 12:26:25 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 January 2010) -- Scientists want to bring together people from Canada and other circumpolar nations in Iqaluit next year to talk about the health of the Arctic marine environment and the North's fisheries. The annual Ocean Innovation Conference, to be held in the Nunavut capital in October 2011, is being organized amid concerns about the effects of climate change in the North. Conference organizers from the Fisheries and Marine Institute at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., are in Nunavut this week to meet with government officials and Inuit hunters. Randy Gillespie, the institute's director of applied research, said organizers will work closely with partners in Nunavut to hold a conference that will include representatives from Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Russia and the United States. "We want to explore the relationships between science and technology and traditional knowledge, recognizing that all three have something to contribute to a sustainable understanding of the marine environment," Gillespie told CBC News. Conference delegates will discuss everything from pollution to ship traffic, Gillespie said. Arctic fisheries will also be discussed, as Nunavut works to expand both its offshore and inshore fishing industries.
Posted 28 January 2010; 8:23:21 AM. Permalink
(David Holthouse/Alaska Dispatch, 8 January 2010) -- Vester Eyland, a small island off the west coast of Greenland, near the mouth of Disko Bay, has long been known for producing some of the best sea kayakers in the world. "The island draws big waves, so it's not easy to paddle and hunt, compared to other places off the coast of the main country, where the water is calm and flat," says famed sea kayaker Maligiaq Johnsen Padilla (pronounced muh-LIG-ee-ahk YOON-sen pa-DEE-uh), 27, whose mother's ancestors are from Vester Eyland. Padilla grew up in Sisimiut, a town on the edge of the Arctic Circle, just south of Disko Bay. He learned to subsistence hunt and sea kayak from his Vester Eyland relatives, for whom knowing how to right, or "roll" a capsized kayak is more survival skill than sport. They hunt in seas where the wind and waves batter kayaks like unruly children slapping at bathtub toys. Padilla's great-grandfather was killed near Vester Eyland in 1929 when a harpooned seal yanked his kayak with enough force in rough water to snap his spine. Though he still hunts for seals, fish and Auks (diving birds related to sea puffins), Padilla is better known outside the Sisimiut area for his prowess in world-class sea kayaking competitions. He's the only person in history to win the Greenland National Kayaking Championships four times, beginning in 1998 at the age of 16, when he became the youngest Greenland kayak champion ever. Last month, Padilla traveled to Alaska to participate in Generation I, a touring series of workshops, demonstrations and community discussions in Northwest Alaska that took place Dec. 28 through Jan. 8 in Kotzebue, Kiana and Selawik. (Here's a slideshow from the event.) Generation I — a play on "I" representing both personal identity and Inuit culture — was inspired by a recent "Hope and Resilience in Suicide Prevention" seminar, in Nuuk, Greenland, that was organized and funded by the Inuit Circumpolar Conference [now Council] in conjunction with the government of Greenland. Suicides among Inuit, and especially Inuit youth, in both Alaska and Greenland are tragically high. But in Greenland, they're decreasing. The "Hope and Resilience" seminar attributed the positive shift in large part to three factors: affirming the self-worth of Inuit teenagers, promoting a deeper sense of Inupiat cultural identity, and putting youths in contact with positive role models. [See the YouTube video]
Posted 10 January 2010; 11:19:40 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 December 2009) -- Despite lucrative financial incentives, new physicians still appear reluctant to locate in smaller northern communities. While the overall number of doctors practising in Canada has gone up at a faster rate than the population, that is not the case in parts of the north. Smaller centres especially are having a hard time drawing permanent doctors. A recent 176-page study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information looked at the supply, migration and distribution of physicians across Canada in the last five years. Between 2004 and 2008, the number of active physicians in Canada grew from 60,612 to 65,440 — an eight per cent increase. Over the same time, the country's overall population grew by just 4.3 per cent. Yukon was among those regions of Canada that saw a rapid rise the number of doctors — according to the report, there were 76 physicians in the Yukon in 2008 compared to 61 in 2004. But elsewhere in the north, the story is much different. While Yellowknife has more than 20 permanent doctors and there are four permanent physicians in Inuvik — residents in places such as Fort Smith N.W.T. and Hay River N.W.T. must rely on fly-in doctors. "Finding permanent physicians — that's a challenge," said Donna Allen, director of population health the N.W.T. government. "Whatever the complement we would have for Fort Smith and Hay River they don't have any of them filled," she said. Yellowknife, with its many amenities, can be a draw for doctors, even for those who at one time swore they wouldn't move north. ... Dr. Ewan Affleck said part of the problem small centres have luring doctors, lies in the fact that fewer doctors are training in family medicine. They just are not well prepared to work in a remote northern setting, especially a smaller community. "Certainly my training at McGill didn't fully prepare me to be a physician in a remote place ... so there was a bit of an adjustment that had to occur. That, I think in some cases, scares people away."
Posted 25 December 2009; 12:32:11 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 December 2009) -- Nunatsiavut government officials said Wednesday that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) levels have been reduced significantly in the Saglek area of northern Labrador. The Canadian Air Force operated a radar base near Saglek Bay, Labrador, from the 1950s to the 1970s. It was part of the Pine Tree Line early warning radar system staffed by Canadian and U.S. military personnel. A PCB cleanup was done there in the late 1990s, but dangerously high concentrations of the chemicals remained in the area. PCBs were used in transformers and other equipment. It seeped into the ground and water in the Saglek Area. Research has shown that exposure to PCBs can affect a person's immune, hormone, nervous, and enzyme systems. It has been linked to many types of cancer, immune system problems and heart disease. Recent tests of fish and birds in the Saglek area found PCBs have dropped between six and 19 times to approach levels that no longer pose a threat to their health, the officials said. A shoreline area near the radar station was contaminated with PCBs. One of the recent study's authors, Tom Sheldon, said the concentration of PCBs in the contaminated area once averaged 1,120 parts per billion (PPB). He said concentrations in the same area are now down to an average of 100 PPB. Sheldon said sediment concentrations higher than 77 PPB are believed to have physiological and reproductive effects on black guillemots, the birds that were studied for the research.
Posted 21 December 2009; 1:57:26 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 8 December 2009) -- Thorvaldur Ingvarsson, Medical Manager at Iceland’s Akureyri Hospital, said at a meeting with Greenlandic counterparts and the country’s Minister for Health that Iceland should send doctors to Greenland. One in every four medical positions in Greenland is currently unmanned, RUV reports. This situation means that Iceland should look very carefully at sending medical staff to work for set temporary periods in Greenland, Ingvarsson said. The Greenlandic health minister and an entourage have been in Iceland for the last few days being introduced to the Icelandic healthcare system; both in Reykjavik and Akureyri. Thorvaldur Ingvarsson says that Iceland’s health service could be very useful to Greenland. The assistance could come in the form of staff exchanges between the two countries or the “rental” of Icelandic staff to Greenland. It is also thought that serious medical procedures on Greenlanders could halve in cost if performed in Iceland instead of in Denmark.
Posted 9 December 2009; 10:12:44 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 7 December 2009) -- Health officials in the Northwest Territories are trying to determine the cause of a tuberculosis outbreak in the remote community of Déline. To date, there have been five confirmed cases of the contagious airborne disease in the community of about 700, located on the southwestern shore of Great Bear Lake. Health officials say there are 11 cases of people carrying Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the germ that causes tuberculosis. Carriers do not display symptoms and cannot transmit TB unless it develops into the full-blown disease. The N.W.T. Health Department has dispatched a team to investigate how the disease flared up in Déline, as well as to figure out how to stop its spread. People in Déline and the N.W.T.'s Sahtu region should watch closely for the symptoms of tuberculosis, communicable disease specialist Cheryl Case told CBC News. "They will be coughing, usually for three weeks or more. They'll start to feel fatigued and weak," Case said Monday. "As the disease progresses ... when they go to bed at night they'll find that they wake up with their bed clothing wet, so we refer to that as night sweats. They can also experience some pain in their chest. And they may even, if they get really sick, start to cough up blood." Once the tuberculosis infection or germ is identified, Case said, it is treatable. But left untreated, tuberculosis can be fatal. The World Health Organization estimates that tuberculosis kills about 1.5 million people around the world each year. Most cases are reported in Africa and Asia.
Posted 8 December 2009; 12:04:42 AM. Permalink
(IcelandReview News, 4 December 2009) -- Greenlandic authorities are hoping that around 80 patients can be sent from Greenland to hospitals in Iceland for treatment every year. Greenland’s Minister of Health Agathe Fintain is currently in Iceland with a Greenlandic delegation to discuss this proposal. One or two patients from Greenland are already being treated at hospitals in Iceland and Fintain is keen on expanding this cooperation. Currently, Greenlandic patients are being treated in Denmark, ruv.is reports. Patients in need of intensive care would be the first to arrive, mostly premature babies and heart and kidney patients. Next, people requiring specialized operations would come; the waiting list for knee and hip surgeries, for example, is long in Greenland. According to the Greenlandic state radio, it costs around ISK 10 million (USD 82,000, EUR 54,000) per year to transport patients to Denmark. That cost could be reduced by half if they were treated in Iceland instead. Fintain met with her Icelandic counterpart Álfheidur Ingadóttir yesterday morning and will also meet representatives of the Landspítali national hospital in Reykjavík and FSA, the hospital in
Posted 6 December 2009; 12:18:41 PM. Permalink
(Geert Groot Koerkamp /Deutsche Welle, 28 November 2009)** -- Russian scientists have doubts over whether global warming is here to stay and whether it's man made. But for the Saami in Russia's north, the mild winters already pose a threat to their traditional way of life. All around the Arctic, the effects of a temperature rise are visible, and native inhabitants of the tundras in Europa, Asia and North America are struggling with the new reality. That's also true for the Saami reindeer herders on Russia's Kola Peninsula, an area bordering on Norway and Finnish Lapland. But, in Russia, climate change is not a hot-button issue, nor is much attention being paid to the upcoming climate summit in Copenhagen. Russian scientists say they have no evidence that global warming is a long-term trend, and doubt whether it is a man-made phenomenon. In the country's northern port in the town of Murmansk, the Marine Biological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences monitors life in and around the Barents Sea. The institute has amassed an impressive database concerning temperature and salinity of the sea over the course of the 20th century. Referring to the statistics, biologist Pavel Makarevich says there are clear cycles during which both temperature and salinity rise and fall. These cycles, he says, are related to solar activity. ... But for the Saami reindeer herders on Russia's Kola Peninsula between the Barents and the White Sea, a drop in temperature is urgently needed. Over the last few years, the winters have become milder and milder, threatening the traditional lifestyle of the Saami. This year again, the onset of winter was late in northern Russia. Normally, the tundra would already be covered by a deep layer of snow, and the numerous lakes would have a thick layer of ice. But snow cover is minimal and some of the lakes are not even frozen yet. For native reindeer herders, that's a problem, because the traditional slaughter season has to be postponed.
Posted 29 November 2009; 3:17:14 AM. Permalink
(Jane George/Nunatsiaq News, 16 November 2009) -- One of the great pioneers of Arctic medicine, Dr. Otto Schaefer, well-known to many Nunavut residents, died peacefully at his home in Jasper, Alta. on Nov. 2 at the age of 90. ...Schaefer was the first medical researcher to systematically study northern health issues. Schaefer, who grew up and received his medical education in Germany, emigrated to Canada in 1951. After heading to Aklavik, and then, to Pangnirtung, the diminuitive doctor fought epidemics of tuberculosis, German measles and meningitis with every medical tool available to him. Schaefer also wanted to understand and conquer what he called the increasing number of “diseases of civilization” that affected Inuit — tooth decay, fetal alcohol syndrome, diabetes, and anemia. Schaefer maintained a 50-year relationship with the North, with Inuit— and, particularly, with Etuangat of Pangnirtung. Etuangat, a community leader and one of the last Pangnirtung residents with direct knowledge of the whaling era, died at age 96 in 1996. ... Both devoted to relieving misery, Etuangat and Schaefer formed a lasting bond, and worked closely together in 1956 and 1957, when the doctor and his young family lived full-time in Pangnirtung. When the two men travelled to the 14 camps in the area twice a year by dog team journeys of up to 2,000 km, they became fast friends. Etuangat helped the doctor and his wife Didi learn Inuktitut, and taught them Inuit ways. When Schaefer’s daughter was born in Pangnirtung, she was called Taoya, after Etuangat’s daughter. ... At Schaefer’s request, his body was donated for medical education. A memorial to celebrate Otto’s life will take place in Jasper, Alberta on Nov. 22.
Posted 17 November 2009; 11:38:20 AM. Permalink
(IceNews, 15 November 2009) -- An international conference held in Nuuk has sought to understand why so many young men in the circumpolar region take their own lives. Despite declining overall rates in recent years, in Greenland and in other Arctic territories, around two-thirds of all suicides are performed by young males aged 15-25. Siku News reports that the statistics have seen Maliina Abelsen, Greenland’s social minister, call for additional research into the lives of young men. “We need to find out more about how our boys are doing,” said Abelsen, Greenland’s representative at the conference on teen suicide. “Why is it, for example, girls who finish their educations?” she asked. One suggestion for the high suicide rate has been the social taboos which limit young males displaying emotion according to feedback from teens in Alaska, Nunavut, Greenland and the Norwegian Saami. Young people attending the conference also implied that parental intervention into personal problems could be better managed. The role of the indigenous Arctic male has also changed as society has developed, with the traditional hunter gatherer figure no longer seen as an essential in modern development. Greenland will continue with its push on prevention efforts even though rates have fallen. Fifty-eight Greenlanders committed suicide in 2006, a figure which dropped to 38 in 2007 and to 35 last year with further declines predicted for 2009, although authorities point out that this does not mean that the curve is necessarily broken. “I hope it continues. But we have to wait some years before we can speak of a trend,” said Office of Prevention spokesperson Jette Eistrup, adding that forecasting was difficult to do based on small numbers.
Posted 16 November 2009; 7:47:23 AM. Permalink
(RIA Novosti, 2 November 2009) --PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY - The number of people confirmed as having the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu, in Russia's Far East Kamchatka Territory has grown to 54, local health ministry spokesman said."Thirty seven children and 17 adults have been confirmed as having swine flu in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and Elizovsky district," the spokesman said, adding 32 people had light infections and 22 were in a moderately grave condition. Thirty-five people were hospitalized, he said."We have enough medicine and places in hospitals," the spokesman added. The first case of swine flu infection was registered in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky on October 21, three days after an infected 11-year-old boy was hospitalized. Five deaths from the H1N1 virus have been so far registered in Russia. Three fatalities were reported in the east Siberian city of Chita, one in Moscow, and another one in the Siberian Krasnoyarsk region. The total number of officially confirmed swine flu cases in the country has reached almost 1,900. Russia's chief sanitary official, Gennady Onishchenko, earlier said the swine flu cases began growing considerably in October, traditionally the time for a seasonal flu outbreak. The country plans to start a swine flu vaccination program in December. According to the World Health Organization, more than 5,700 people have died from swine flu worldwide, and the total number of officially confirmed cases has exceeded 440,000, as of October 25.
Posted 1 November 2009; 9:24:25 PM. Permalink
(A.Rienstra/Icenews, 18 October 2009) -- Increasing concerns are being expressed within Greenland, the country with the highest suicide rate in the world. The rate in Greenland is 24 times that of the United States. Most at risk are the young, as in many countries it is the teenage and young adult population that are most likely to kill themselves. In bus stations and on school walls posters encourage the young to call the suicide hotline: “The call is free. No one is alone. Don’t be alone with your dark thoughts. Call.” While males tend to dominate statistics, a survey from 2008 showed alarmingly that one in four of all young women had attempted to take her life as reported by Siku News. Danish analysis has revealed that the trend towards suicide has been a recent one in Greenland. Up until the mid-twentieth century most Greenlanders existed as they had done for thousands of years. The society was very much a hunter-gatherer community centred on small hamlets along the rugged coastline. Statistics from the early part of the century indicate Greenland was amongst the lowest in world suicide rates. However, 1970 was a watershed year when the suicide rate began to rise, a trend that has continued to this day. By the end of the 1980s several towns reported suicide as the leading cause of death in young adults. According to Peter Bjerregaard, a researcher at Denmark’s National Institute of Public Health, nearly all suicides from 1970 were from people born after 1950. That year represented a landmark social change for Greenland as it launched its transformation into a welfare state backed by Danish resettlement and modern aid. The move to bring Greenland into the future seems to have brought one of the developed world’s most tragic causes of death with it. The high suicide rate has also been attributed to most deaths being from shooting or hanging, with up to 90 percent of suicides committed in this highly efficient fashion.
Posted 19 October 2009; 2:26:06 PM. Permalink
(Andrew Duffy/Ottawa Citizen, 12 October 2009) -- IQALUIT -- Iola Tikivik's addiction began at 16 when friends offered him a cigarette after they'd hiked up one of the hills that frame this northern capital. Two years later, Tikivik, now in Grade 12 at Inukshuk high school, smokes at least half a pack each day. He tried to quit earlier this year during a government-sponsored campaign designed to curb youth smoking by offering students who butt out the chance to win a computer. Tikivik lasted four days. "It was too hard," he says, shaking his head. Quitting was made more difficult by the fact that four of Tikivik's five siblings and his father all smoke. "Someone always has a cigarette," he says. His story is not unusual in the North. As a regular smoker, Tikivik is part of the majority in Nunavut. The 10-year-old territory has the highest rate of smoking in the country: 53 per cent of people over the age of 12 surveyed by Statistics Canada reported lighting up daily—even though cigarettes here can cost $16 a pack. Nunavut's smoking rate is more than double the national average (22 per cent) and is considerably higher than those in the Northwest Territories (36 per cent) and Yukon (30 per cent). Among Nunavut's Inuit, 85 per cent of the territory's population, the rates are even worse. The 2006 Aboriginal Peoples Survey found that 64 per cent of the territory's Inuit over the age of 15 light up daily; another eight per cent called themselves occasional smokers. "The levels here are exceptionally high compared to the rest of the country," says Dr. Geraldine Osborne, Nunavut's deputy chief medical officer of health, who has worked in the territory since 2001. The tobacco problem is shared by Inuit across Canada and by many First Nations communities.
Posted 13 October 2009; 1:38:19 PM. Permalink
(Robin Paxton/Reuters, 13 August 2009)** -- ANADYR, Russia - Vladislav Rintytegin is an alcoholic, but he hasn't had a drink in three years. He is leaving on a one-month voyage around Chukotka to help people like him. In Russia's extreme northeast, no village has escaped the scourge of alcohol abuse, he says. "We held an art competition for children. Do you know what they painted?," the 47-year-old Red Cross volunteer asks. "Broken glass, blood, cemeteries. It's all thanks to vodka." Seventy years of Soviet rule failed to subdue Russia's most isolated natives, but "perestroika" proved to be devastating. In the ensuing lawlessness, poachers decimated reindeer herds and unemployment was rife. Suddenly starved of Moscow's subsidies, the indigenous peoples of the far northeast—the Chukchi, Eskimos and Evens—were powerless to stop the collapse of their traditional ways of life. Hunger, poverty and alcoholism, took hold. "People talk now about 'the crisis'. We've been living in a crisis since the 1990s," said Alexandra Khalkachan, 56, a teacher of the Even language in the city of Magadan.
Posted 17 August 2009; 8:05:19 PM. Permalink
(Kurt Kristensen/News from Greenland, 27 July 2009. Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/5iaNf2dAj) -- A new report has been published by the Department of Family and Health, ‘Homelessness in Greenland’. It estimates the scale of homelessness across the country, though no exact definitive figures have been provided. The report indicates that about 514 people are regarded as homeless in the capital Nuuk. This number is the equivalent of 1 percent of Greenland’s population. The report has already drawn criticism from politicians at home, with Astrid Fleischer Rex, chairman for Sermersooq Council’s welfare committee and member for Demokraatit on the parliamentary family committee, saying that the report could not be used for anything. Rex’s criticism was based on the report’s analysis that the small town of Upernavik, on the mid-western coast, had the highest number of homeless young people nationally. ‘But that is due to the fact that the many children from small settlements who live with family in Upernavik whilst at school are included in the statistic; a group that I can not accept as being homeless,’ Rex said. Despite her scepticism of the new report, Rex remained committed to finding a solution to the country’s problem of homelessness. ... According to the report there are two distinct groups of homeless people found in Greenland, each of similar size. The first group is the ‘houseless homeless’, those who have no roof over their heads but are otherwise fully functioning members of society with connections to the employment market. This group consists primarily of hunters and fishermen who manage to get by, but who due to their self-employed status do not have access to accommodation provided by an employer. While this group tend to find a solution to their predicament in one way or another, they nevertheless run the risk of falling through the social safety net. The solution for this group is quite simply housing. But in the larger towns this is easier said than done. Greater social and personal difficulties are a feature for the second group of homeless, meaning that their problems go beyond housing, unemployment and material poverty. This group are not able to overcome difficulties which include misuse, trauma and psychological problems just because they are offered a solution to their housing needs. In fact, a large percentage of this second group are homeless as a result of rent arrears and complaints from neighbours in their previous accommodation. What is required here is a not a single solution, but a combined effort including help from both social work and health authorities, as well as education and employment. While men represent the largest group of homeless in the country, notably within the 31-60 age bracket, there are also families and children represented.
Posted 27 July 2009; 4:11:34 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 27 July 2009) -- Health officials in Labrador have been combatting an unusually high number of cases of tuberculosis this year after several years of decline. So far in 2009, 14 cases of TB have been confirmed, double the number seen during the last outbreak in 2006. Dr. Muna ar-Rushdi, the medical officer of health for the Labrador-Grenfell health authority, said most of the people affected live on Labrador's north coast. "Part of it is that we are better at picking up those people with active TB. And we have a population that may have been previously infected and now as they've gotten older, their immunity goes down, they have other diseases, they're more likely to develop TB disease," she said. Ar-Rushdi said stopping the spread of TB means testing everyone who's been in contact with the 14 confirmed cases. She said figuring out exactly how many people have been affected is difficult because people can carry TB without showing any signs of illness.
Posted 27 July 2009; 2:06:06 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 17 July 2009) -- Health researchers from around the world discussed some unexpected themes during the 14th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, which wrapped up Thursday in Yellowknife. One new topic in particular, food security, came up during the week-long conference of scientists and academics discussing circumpolar health, organizer Pamela Orr said. Food security means "people's right to have access to healthy foods," Orr said Thursday. "That was an overwhelming new topic in this congress; there was tremendous interest. So there's never been that kind of energy before about nutrition and food." The congress's official theme was about turning research into action. This year saw the end of the two-year International Polar Year program, in which scientists conducted studies about climate change and related topics in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Orr said she and other congress organizers will continue addressing that theme at the next circumpolar health congress, slated to take place in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2012. Hundreds of delegates from Canada, the United States, Russia, Scandinavia and other northern nations gathered in the N.W.T. capital to discuss the effects of everything from climate change to economic development on the health of northern peoples.
Posted 24 July 2009; 4:32:37 PM. Permalink
(The Canadian Press via Yahoo! News, 16 July 2009) -- TORONTO - Newly released swine flu statistics show the median age of cases among Inuit people is significantly younger than that of other Canadians. The data, released by the Public Health Agency of Canada, show that the median age of Inuit swine flu cases is nine years old. The median age of First Nations cases is 19 years of age while the median age of cases among non-aboriginal Canadians is 18. The figures are in the weekly flu update from the Public Health Agency of Canada, which offers no theory as to why the median age of Inuit cases is lower than other groups. Median means the midway point between the youngest case and the oldest case. The report, called FluWatch, says of Canada's 10,156 confirmed cases, 151 have been identified as First Nations people, 30 have been Metis and 390 have been from Nunavut, which has a predominantly Inuit population.
Posted 17 July 2009; 1:15:33 PM. Permalink
(Sheryl Ubelacker/The Canadian Press via Globe and Mail, 15 July 2009) -- It's isolated and barren, accessible by plane for only a short window of time each summer. But for scientists exploring the frontiers of space-based telemedicine, Nunavut's Devon Island is about as ideal a spot as any on Earth. That's why researchers from McMaster University are spending the next 10 days or so on the Arctic island, running a series of simulated medical emergencies and testing telecommunications systems that will link them up with doctors thousands of kilometres away. At the heart of the project is a robotic patient used by McMaster's Centre for Simulation-Based Learning to teach medical grads and nursing students how to deal with emergency medical conditions without putting real patients at risk. “They look like department store mannequins, but they breathe and they talk,” said program director Dave Musson, who is conducting the study with two grad students on Devon Island. “We can speak to them, you can do CPR on these guys, you can defibrillate them, they produce heart rhythms, they have pulses. So they basically are a model of somebody lying in bed who's extremely sick.” The plan is to have other scientists with basic medical training also working at the site—the Haughton-Mars Project Research Base—to respond to simulated medical emergencies under the guidance of physicians at McMaster in Hamilton, in Toronto and at other points around the globe, he said. “We'll do a series of these simulations and we'll beam them back down to several sites,” Dr. Musson said. “We've done some of this stuff at McMaster, going from room to room or building to building and we recognize certain limitations in what you can and can't do.”
Posted 16 July 2009; 4:31:46 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 15 July 2009) -- Research suggests suicide rates among the Sami, the indigenous peoples of Norway, are lower than among other northern aboriginal groups. Anne Silviken, a psychologist with the Center for Sami Health Research in Norway, found the suicide rate among the Sami is about 19 per 100,000. By comparison, Silviken said Greenland Inuit have a rate of about 100 per 100,000. "The socio-economic status among Sami, they're not big differences between the Sami and the [general] population, so that could be one reason for the low suicide rates," Silviken said Tuesday at the International Congress on Circumpolar Health, being held in Yellowknife. "The Sami has been in an ongoing cultural revitalization process during the [past] three and four decades, so they have seen more cultural equality." Silviken said such factors mean the Sami are not as disadvantaged as some other indigenous groups around the circumpolar world. At the same time, she said, the Sami share a similar history, such as having experienced residential schools. Silviken said she hopes the health congress will help northern peoples learn from each other, as well as empower northern communities to help deal with suicide and other social problems.
Posted 15 July 2009; 9:57:41 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 13 July 2009) -- Health researchers who study the Arctic are gathering in Yellowknife this week for the 14th annual International Congress on Circumpolar Health. Hundreds of delegates from Canada, the United States, Russia, Scandinavia and other northern nations are in the N.W.T. capital to discuss the effects of everything from climate change to economic development on the health of northern peoples. The conference sessions began Sunday with a keynote address by Inuvialuit leader and former N.W.T. premier Nellie Cournoyea, who issued a challenge to the assembled academics. "The impact of research has to be important enough so that the political bodies who approve funding and priorities get the message — that is, research in itself is OK, but research for us has to be a reality to come to a conclusion," Cournoyea told CBC News on Sunday. In addition to seasoned scientists, the congress is also attracting university students with an interest in northern health issues. Organizers have set up a number of activities for students, showing off both the scientific and the social opportunities in the North, in the hopes of encouraging more people to come up for work after university. "In the North, there's a lack of capacity right now in terms of performing research, and even in terms of health-care service provision," said Bree Denning, who is organizing student activities for the congress.
Posted 14 July 2009; 12:11:38 PM. Permalink
(The Copenhagen Post via Jyllands-Posten, 10 July 2009) -- A toxic substance was found to be on building material that has been dumped in the sea off the coast of Greenland’s capital, Nuuk, and a new report recommends the immediate removal of the material from the waters. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) were commonly found in paints, cements and sealants, until they were banned in the 1970s after having entered the food chain due to being dumped in water, causing toxic health effects in humans and animals. Earlier this spring, two large housing blocks were torn down in Nuuk and the rubble dumped in the sea as part of a plan to create a foundation for a new harbour area. However, when PCB was found in a third housing block, consultancy firm Cowi was asked to investigate the possibility of PCB being in rubble already dumped in the sea. The Cowi report will be published later today, but the department head of the Greenland Environmental Protection Agency (APA) has said that the results are not good. ‘There’s a lot of PCB in [the rubble] and the paint is regarded as especially dangerous waste,’ said department head Tina Petersen to Ingeniøren trade journal. Petersen confirmed that the report found PCB levels of 330-1030 milligrams per kilo in the paint. But finding out which parts of the rubble need to be removed from the sea will prove problematic for the authorities. The PCB has penetrated one to two centimetres into the concrete and with parts of the rubble being crushed during the demolition, it will be likely that all the material must be removed from the ocean. Petersen said they are now looking at the costs involved in removing the material and working out if it will eventually be disposed of properly in Greenland or Denmark.
Posted 13 July 2009; 2:14:51 PM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 9 July 2009) -- People with milk allergies now have hope of being able to drink milk in the future. Microbiologists Peter Stougaard and Marianne Schmidt from Denmark’s University of Copenhagen have found a mineral in Ikka Fjord in southern Greenland which can be added to milk to remove the lactose which many cannot tolerate. The mineral is found throughout southern Greenland, but specifically in Ikka Fjord. According to the journal Polar Front, the two scientists have developed and patented a new enzyme that can break down lactose. The enzyme is isolated from bacteria which live inside the Ikka Fjord mineral deposits, writes public broadcaster knr.gl. Stougaard also said he and his colleagues have carried out preliminary chemical studies on sea cucumbers from the deposits in Ikka Fjord which suggest the organisms may contain a cancer-inhibiting substance that could be utilised by the pharmaceutical industry.
Posted 12 July 2009; 4:54:03 PM. Permalink
(Anchorage Daily News, 1 June 2009) -- No one is sure why Alaska's suicide rate has risen for four straight years and is the nation's highest. Alaska can round up the usual suspects—alcohol and drug abuse, hopelessness, isolation, poverty, wretched family lives, lack of opportunity, sexual abuse, biological factors, culture, history, racism—but we still won't have all the answers. We do have some answers, however. And as Susan Soule, mental health consultant and former director of the state's suicide prevention program, points out, we know the important questions. Soule quoted the late Edwin Schneidman, the father of suicide prevention, who said the work boiled down to two questions: "Where do you hurt? How may I help you?" Alaska needs more people who can ask those questions and have the skill and care to listen to the answers, comprehend them and know where and how to help—or find help. And, especially in Bush Alaska, we need more Alaska Natives doing the job, for they can connect in ways that outsiders from different cultures usually cannot. And we need to make clear to both communities and individuals that we care. That alone might serve to tip the balance between life and death. Both Soule and James Gallanos, the state's current suicide prevention coordinator, point out that suicidal people struggle with a mix of reasons to live and reasons to die. Knowledge that a person or community matters, that others care, is a reason to live, an antidote to the isolation that contributes to suicide.
Posted 1 June 2009; 4:36:51 PM. Permalink
(RadioSweden, 29 May 2009) -- At seminars for reindeer-raising Sami in the northern Swedish town of Kiruna, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish participants are highly critical of what they call the lack of government-sponsored measures to deal with the psychological problems of the Sami.Statistics show a much higher suicide rate among young male reindeer-raisers compared to the local non-Sami populations in northern Lappland - explained by the growing uncertainty for the Sami because of legal conflicts with the local population over grazing and hunting rights and the loss of many reindeer to predators.
Posted 30 May 2009; 3:05:46 AM. Permalink
(Nicolai Ouroussoff/Anchorage Daily News, 10 May 2009) -- A crew member aboard a cruise ship in Alaska waters is recovering from what health officials suspect is swine flu. The female crew member of the Serenade of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean ship, became ill May 2 while sailing from San Francisco northward. The woman was isolated two days later and was treated with antiviral medication, Dr. Jay Butler, Alaska's chief medical officer, said Sunday. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified Alaska health officials over the weekend that there was a probable case of swine flu aboard the ship. Testing was performed at the Washington State Public Health Laboratory and forwarded to the CDC. The CDC is in the process of validating the results, which were expected Monday. In the meantime, the state conducted its own testing on a sample taken in Ketchikan when the ship docked there. That sample was sent Friday to the new virology lab at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and came back negative on Saturday. Those results were not a surprise, Butler said, because the woman had already been three days on Tamiflu, an anti-viral medication effective against swine flu, and for several days had no fever.
Posted 10 May 2009; 6:57:58 PM. Permalink
(Haider Rizvi/OneWorld US, 8 May 2009) UNITED NATIONS - Environmental groups and indigenous rights activists are calling for the White House and U.S. Congress to ratify an international treaty against the use and production of certain hazardous chemicals. "Time is running out. The Congress has to take a stand and fight for the lives of the contaminated people and environment of the North," said Andrea Carmen, executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council. Carmen and other activists, who are attending international talks on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) in Geneva this week, say they have grave concerns about the impact of toxic chemicals on the health of native communities -- especially those living in far northern parts of the globe. Numerous studies have concluded that exposure to toxic chemicals, such as DDT, endosulfan, and lindane, is afflicting the indigenous populations in the Arctic region with illnesses of various descriptions. "The indigenous Arctic peoples are suffering the most from these chemicals," said Vi Waghiyi, an activist from Saint Lawrence Island in the northern Bering Sea, "because the chemicals are long lasting, and drift North on wind and water currents. ... That means these chemicals are also in our traditional foods and affecting our health and the health of the children," she added in a statement, citing studies that conclude that even minimum exposure to POPs could cause immune system suppression, learning and development disabilities, diabetes, impairment of reproductive health, and certain kinds of cancer. Public health research shows that the indigenous people in the Arctic relying on marine food are exposed to levels to POPs that are associated with significant health effects.
Posted 9 May 2009; 5:52:25 PM. Permalink
(National Aboriginal Health Organization press release, 7 May 2009) -- For the first time, Inuit in Canada, Alaska and Greenland will have a live, interactive television series focused on Inuit wellness issues. The TV series will feature Inuit wellness information, stories about successful Inuit community health projects and some information from recent health research. Inuit Tuttarvingat is encouraging Inuit men, women and youth, as well as health and wellness workers, the general public, researchers, and government officials in Canada, Alaska and Greenland to tune in to its live television phone-in shows on May 11, 12 and 13. The series will be broadcast in the Inuit language, with English captioning. This international TV series, called Qanuqtuurniq--Finding the Balance, is a communications and outreach project supported by the Government of Canada Program for International Polar Year (IPY). "Our Government works collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to help improve the health of Northerners. This includes funding community-based programming such as Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program, Aboriginal Head Start and the National Aboriginal Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy," said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health. "This television series provides an opportunity for all Canadians to understand more about Inuit health."
Posted 8 May 2009; 8:07:15 AM. Permalink
(The Arctic Sounder, 30 April 2009) -- Three Alaska community health projects will be showcased in an international broadcast of the Canadian series, “Qanuqtuurniq – Finding the Balance,” airing on May 11, 12 and 13. Alaskans can tune in to the 360 North channel to watch the live programs. Produced by Inuit Tuttarvingat of the National Aboriginal Health Organization in Canada, the live, phone-in television series on Inuit wellness will be broadcast in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and online as part of the International Polar Year. The interactive television project will raise awareness of Inuit youth and coping, Inuit men’s wellness and Inuit maternity care, and to share research on these topics, said Dianne Kinnon, director of Inuit Tuttarvingat. A majority of the television series will feature a live panel discussion, with time for the studio audience and viewers at home to ask questions and join the discussion. The shows will also broadcast pre-recorded videos of several community-based wellness projects or programs from Canada, Alaska and Greenland.
Posted 1 May 2009; 10:40:31 AM. Permalink
(Eielson Air Force Base News, 9 March 2009) -- Sailors and soldiers carry medical supplies from the gymnasium of the Alaska Army National Guard Armory in Bethel, Alaska, in preparation to deploy in support of the 15th annual Operation Arctic Care. Operation Arctic Care is a joint military medical readiness exercise that brings no-cost health care to underserved Alaskan residents, including dental, optometry and veterinary support. This year's Navy-led mission has teams in 11 villages in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta region.
Posted 10 March 2009; 9:36:44 PM. Permalink
(Jesper Hansen/Arctic Council News, 23 February 2009) -- A new report confirms high levels of heavy metals in traditional Greenlandic food. It is a challenge to substitute imported substandard foods with a more healthy diet, says the SLiCA Chief, Birger Poppel. People in Greenland are more exposed to contaminants from their diet than people in Europe and North America. The cause is that marine traditional food items such as fish, seabirds, seals and whales are much more important in Greenland, and that at the same time some of these food items contain high levels of heavy metals. Now, these well known facts from several sources are confirmed by at new report from the National Environmental Research Institute, NERI [which means eating in Greenlandic], in Denmark. The report presents contaminant data from muscle, liver, kidney and blubber from hooded seal and walrus and blubber and skin from minke whale. All samples were collected in West Greenland. Earlier research programs have showed that within the Arctic, Greenlanders have the highest concentrations of mercury and most organochlorines and estimated daily intakes of mercury, cadmium and several organochlorine compounds exceed "acceptable or tolerable daily intakes" for many people in Greenland. The problem has been discussed in the SLiCA project (Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic, an Arctic Council project under the Sustainable Development Working Group). Birger Poppel, Research Project Chief, SLiCA at Ilisimatusarfik/University of Greenland says: "Results from SLiCA document that almost seven out of ten Greenlandic households report that half or more than half of the meat and fish consumed by the household is traditional food. Furthermore, a substantial part of the traditional food consumption is harvested by the households or received as gifts from other households. Eating, harvesting and sharing traditional food has economic, nutritional, dietary and social aspects and is also part of the cultural identity. Changes in the consumption of Greenlandic food, for whatever reason, would therefore without doubt impact the Greenlanders' way of life in many ways. Recent findings indicate a decreasing consumption of traditional food and the actual challenge seems to be substituting imported substandard food with a more healthy diet."
Posted 24 February 2009; 10:05:49 PM. Permalink
(YLE, 19 February 2009) -- Psychoses appear in Finland along strong regional boundaries, according to a new Finnish study. People in northern Finland are much more prone to psychoses than elsewhere in the country. In northern Finland, 4.6 percent of the population has experienced psychotic episodes at some point in their lives. The lowest rate was found in south-western areas, where psychoses affected only 2.2 percent. Researchers believe that the regional differences can, in part, be explained by conditions in early childhood. Northern Finland has a higher instance of infections during pregnancy, birthing complications, and other early development risk factors—all of which are also factors in developing schizophrenia. The study was co-ordinated by the National Institute of Health and Welfare and published in Schizophrenia Research magazine. In contrast to the data on schizophrenia, affective disorders (like bi-polar disorders) and depression-related psychosis did not appear to have any regional correlation.
Posted 19 February 2009; 9:58:29 AM. Permalink
(Jordana Huber/Canwest News Service, 8 December 2008) -- TORONTO - Lung cancer rates among Canada's Inuit are the highest in the world according to a new study. Compared with Caucasians in the United States, Inuit in Canada, Greenland and Alaska have two times the incidence rate of lung cancer, said University of Toronto arctic researcher Dr. Kue Young. Moreover, Young said there is a "striking" difference in lung cancer rates within Inuit populations. Lung cancer rates are about one-and-a-half times higher among Canadian Inuit men and two to three times higher among Canadian Inuit women than in Alaska and Greenland, Young said. "This is something that requires urgent action," said Young, whose findings were recently published in the Journal of Circumpolar Health. "There is clearly an important link between the high smoking rate and the high cancer rate." According to Statistics Canada, 58 per cent of Inuit adults smoked on a daily basis in 2006—more than three times the 17 per cent rate for all Canadian adults who reported smoking. Of particular concern, he said, is lung cancers reported today are as a result of exposure to smoking 20 years. So even if there was an immediate and dramatic reduction in the smoking rates the incidence of lung cancer will continue to trend upwards, he said. "I don't think we need to convince the policymakers and health professionals that there is a problem but ultimately it is the individual who has to do their own part," he said. Young, who will present the study findings this week at a conference in Quebec City, said there has been an increase in overall cancer incidents among circumpolar Inuit between 1989-2008.
Posted 9 December 2008; 9:03:42 AM. Permalink
(Sermitsiaq, 4 November 2008) -- Greenland can expect a shortage of nurses for the foreseeable future, says the country's healthcare education centre. Greenland will need to continue to hire temporary nursing for the 'next 20 years' according to the Peqqissaanermi Ilinniarfik Centre for Healthcare Education. 'We started in 1994 but it will be decades before we can match the need,' the centre's Maybritt Andersen told broadcaster KNR. 'We've graduated 70 nurses so far, and there are 50 more at various stages of their educations. So there is light at the end of the tunnel. But until then we still need help from the outside.' 'The outside' is Denmark. Danish nurses are often hired as temporary workers, but that is more costly and less stable than hiring full-time nurses from Greenland.
Posted 5 November 2008; 9:19:49 PM. Permalink
(Iceland Review, 4 September 2008) -- Midwives in Iceland began their first in a series of strikes at midnight last night. No meetings were held between the negotiation committee of the Association of Midwives and the Ministry of Finance last night. "We noticed that the Minister of Finance declared in parliament [yesterday] that he hoped an agreement would be reached before the strike. He should have known better than anyone that no negotiating meeting had been scheduled," chairman of the Midwives' Association Gudlaug Einarsdóttir told Morgunbladid. The two parties are planning to meet today.
Posted 4 September 2008; 4:54:39 PM. Permalink
(Tamar Ben-Yosef/The Arctic Sounder via Fairbanks News-Miner, 1 September 2008) -- ANCHORAGE - Walking through the garden with Dr. Ted Mala at Southcentral Foundation’s Traditional Healing Clinic, it is easy to forget that many of the flourishing plants surrounding us are essentially what some people consider weeds. Not according to Mala. In his eyes, there is no such thing as a weed and all plants were put on earth for a reason. Mala, director of the clinic and director of tribal relations at the Southcentral Foundation, is at ease in the garden, strolling calmly from bush to flower, naming each one with apparent delight as if he were walking through a beautiful botanical garden. Mala in July was selected as Native Physician of the Year by the Association of American Indian Physicians in its summer convention. A modest, soft-spoken man with a resume to flaunt, Mala was comfortable talking about everyone and everything but himself. The honorable title, he admitted, was a very pleasant and welcomed surprise, but more than anything it is was a validation from his peers.
Posted 1 September 2008; 5:57:03 PM. Permalink
(Christi Hang/Daily News-Miner, 13 August 2008) -- FAIRBANKS - An important key to human health in the Arctic lies in a syringe. The introduction of vaccines has contributed to the improved health of people in the Arctic during the last 50 years, said Dr. Alan Parkinson, deputy director of the Arctic Investigations Program of the National Center for Infectious Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The positive change also is attributed to better housing, sanitation and improved health care delivery during the same time period. Parkinson spoke on current Arctic health problems and gave recommendations as part of the 2008 Conference of Arctic Parliamentarians, held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The conference is expected to have over 150 guests from the European Parliament, indigenous peoples’ organizations and all eight Arctic Council member states—Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S.
Posted 13 August 2008; 7:50:38 PM. Permalink
Through a Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funded project from the University of Toronto, the Arctic Health Research Network – Yukon, in partnership with the Northern Research Institute at Yukon College, is offering an annual scholarship to promote northern health research to Yukon students. The scholarship is to enable northern residents to undertake graduate level studies which will benefit northern capacity in health research through training and education at any university (Canadian or International). A maximum of $21,000 for a Ph.D. student or $17,500 for a Master's student is available. The application form and eligibility requirements (in Word format) may be found on the Arctic Health Research Network-Yukon website: www.yukon.arctichealth.ca, and the Yukon College website: www.yukoncollege.yk.ca Deadline is 22 August 2008.
Posted 7 July 2008; 2:03:39 PM. Permalink
There was a dramatic increase in tuberculosis cases in Greenland from 1990 to 1997, which hit small isolated settlements, and affected primarily young adults and children. The rise in TB persists and this week researchers said one in 10 Greenlandic children have TB. Dr Åse Bengård, of the Epidemiology Department at Copenhgen's Rigshospital, told the Newspaq news agency that said government measures such as changing the national strategy for combating tuberculosis and increasing the number of health professionals available to treat children has had an effect. Bengård pointed out that a part of the new treatment effort was a screening to find TB carriers. That process, she said, could take a long time, and she cautioned against expecting that infection rates would fall immediately. "This can take a number of years. This isn't something you can change from one day to the next."
Posted 18 March 2008; 9:06:21 PM. Permalink
(Vostok Media, 13 March 2008) -- Representatives of the humanitarian aid organization Doctors of the World also known as Médecins du monde (MDM) arrived in Yakutia to train local "chum-workers" ("chum" is the Yakut word for "tent") in rendering the first predoctor care. The group of the specialists includes an MDM expert Rober Alon and his two assistants, Sakha News reports. Officials of the Yakutia Health Care Ministry say the purpose of the French specialists' visit to Yakutia is to teach chum-workers the methods of rendering the first medical aid including birth delivery. The doctors already arrived in Yakutia and went to reindeer herds where chum-workers work. The course of study will take ten days.
Posted 14 March 2008; 9:31:23 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 18 February 2008) -- The chief of an Innu band council in Labrador says her reserve needs $1 million to start addressing the high number of children in foster care. About a quarter of the children of Sheshatshiu were not living with their parents in January, according to a document obtained by CBC News. "This needs to stop now. We need to do something about it today," said Anastasia Qupee, who said she was shocked to see that so many children from her central Labrador community had been taken into the child protection system. Qupee said she was most upset about the nine children who now live outside her province altogether. "These are our children," she said. "They have our culture, they have our language, and we need to retain that, but you can't do that when the kids are away—far away from the community, even out of the province—because the parents can't make [a] connection with their kids."
Posted 18 February 2008; 2:18:56 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 February 2008) -- Health officials are keeping their eye on an emerging strain of bacteria found in Canada's North, thanks to a circumpolar health monitoring program that is uncovering bacterial infections that could otherwise have gone undetected. About 31 cases of the Haemophilus influenzae (H.flu) type A bacteria infection have been detected across northern Canada in the past few years, including two cases in the Northwest Territories, according to monitoring efforts by the International Circumpolar Surveillance System. Cases of infection from the H.flu type A strain have been recorded by the surveillance system network, which shares such information across most of the circumpolar North. The system has monitoring bacterial infections since 1999 from northern regions of Canada, the United States, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
Posted 15 February 2008; 4:58:23 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 5 Feruary 2008) -- The Yukon government announced Tuesday that it will build a 30-unit housing complex in Whitehorse to reduce waiting lists for social housing, particularly for women who need shelter most urgently. Elaine Taylor, the minister responsible for the Yukon Women's Directorate, said government officials determined that the most pressing housing needs are among single mothers and women leaving abusive relationships. The need was identified from direct consultations with Yukoners on the waiting list for low-cost housing. Of the 65 families currently on the waiting list for social housing in Whitehorse, nearly 40 per cent of them are women identified as being in that highest-need category, she said. "So this particular complex will certainly go a long way to meet the very unique needs of women in this particular situation," Taylor told reporters on Tuesday. The government has budgeted up to $13 million for the project, which Taylor said should open in about 2½ years. The funding is coming from the federal government through its Northern Housing Trust. No location has been picked for the housing complex yet, but Taylor said some potential sites have been identified.
Posted 14 February 2008; 3:54:20 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 19 October 2007) -- Nunavut leaders celebrated the opening of Iqaluit's new hospital Friday, but the territory's health minister warned that it will face challenges recruiting nurses and other medical staff for the facility. Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq and Premier Paul Okalik opened the new Qikiqtani General Hospital in a ceremony Friday morning. Despite Friday's grand opening, the hospital won't be fully operational for another two to three weeks, as staff transfer services from the existing Baffin Regional Hospital. The 35-bed full-service facility will serve patients from 13 communities in Nunavut's Qikiqtaaluk region. The old hospital building will house physicians' and specialists' clinics, outpatient services and a pharmacy. It has taken 11 years and $64 million for the facility to reach opening day. Okalik said the hospital was envisioned long before Nunavut became its own territory in 1999. The premier thanked the MLAs in Nunavut's first legislative assembly, who prioritized construction of the hospital, as well as current MLAs for seeing the project to completion.
Posted 20 October 2007; 10:54:33 PM. Permalink
(Ross Romaniuk/Sun Media, 4 October 2007) -- It's a leading-edge study into respiratory disease that has the University of Manitoba puffing out its chest. U of M will soon lead what it calls a historic research project to determine whether soapstone carving, hunting and other cultural activities are causes of lung disease among Canada's northern Inuit people -- who are dying of the ailment at higher rates than any others across the country. Using a $300,000 grant from Oakville, Ont.-based pharmaceutical giant Nycomed Canada Inc., the four-year project will be led by U of M's J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit and focus on the Inuit community of Sanikiluaq, Nunavut -- population 815. University president Emoke Szathmary spoke proudly yesterday of the potential "worldwide implications and significant impacts" to come from the probe, pointing out to health-care officials and researchers at the Bannatyne campus that no scientific study has yet been conducted on occupation-induced lung disease. And this despite evidence that respiratory illnesses kill more residents of Arctic regions than people in any other area of the world.
Posted 9 October 2007; 11:14:46 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 4 October 2007) -- Snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, staples of transportation in the North, have also sent more people to hospital with injuries there than anywhere else in Canada, according to a national report released Wednesday. In its report on ATV injury hospitalizations in Canada in 2004 and 2005, the Canadian Institute for Health Information found that the northern territories have the highest rates of hospitalization from incidents involving all-terrain vehicles — which include snowmobiles and other off-road vehicles—at 28 and 27 per 100,000 population, respectively. By comparison, the national rate was under five per 100,000 for snowmobiles and just over 10 for off-road vehicles. Newfoundland and Labrador had the second-highest hospitalization rates, with 14 per 100,000 for snowmobiles and 16 for off-road vehicles. The lowest snowmobile hospitalization rate was in Nova Scotia, while the lowest off-road vehicle rate was in Ontario. "We see that the territories in fact have the highest rate of injury hospitalization," Margaret Keresteci, CIHI's manager of clinical registries, told CBC News in an interview Thursday. "But when we take into account the uses of all-terrain vehicles, we realize that in the territories, quite often the vehicles are being used for transportation and are used at a much greater rate than other places."
Posted 4 October 2007; 1:40:25 PM. Permalink
(Bob Weber/Canadian Press via Toronto Daily Star, 28 September 2007) ** -- Go ahead and have seconds on that muskox mac-and-cheese. A new study has found that levels of contaminants, including lead, mercury and PCBs, are all dropping in the bodies of some aboriginal mothers, suggesting that global efforts to reduce toxins accumulating in Arctic food animals may be paying off. "We found that the young expectant women were consuming more traditional food and their body burden of contaminants had reduced," said Barb Armstrong, who will present the study next week at a conference in Lake Louise, Alta. "It means that they're healthier and they don't have to worry about long-range contaminants in any of their traditional diet." The Monitoring Our Mothers study looked at contaminant levels in the blood of pregnant women from 14 communities in the northwestern Northwest Territories, comparing the results with a similar study in 2000. Almost all the subjects were aboriginals whose diet depended heavily on foods such as caribou, fish, beluga and seal, animals that tend to accumulate environmental toxins that drift in from the south. The study found significant drops in the amount of such contaminants found in blood and hair samples from the mothers. Levels of lead, mercury and PCBs—considered a carcinogen—all fell by 24 per cent, from 94 to 76 micrograms per litre of blood. The average levels of both lead and mercury are now below the threshold considered to be of concern. Average PCB levels are now 1.3 per cent above the level of concern. In 2000, they were 4.3 per cent above that level.
Posted 29 September 2007; 4:45:00 AM. Permalink
(Len Anderson, KSKA - Anchorage via APRN, 25 September 2007) -- This Friday in Washington D.C. an Anchorage-based clinic and its director will receive international recognition for their work in bridging cultures and healing patients. See photos and listen to additional audio clips at KSKA.org
(Newslab.ru, 20 September 2007) -- Up to 400,000 citizens of the Krasnoyarsk Territory are alcohol addicts. Igor Kulakov, chief medical officer of the Krasnoyarsk Territory Narcological Dispensary, announced at the session of the regional interdepartmental committee on counteraction against drug and alcohol addiction on September 19. Experts estimate the number of alcohol addicts registered officially in the dispensary. In 2007 diagnosis "alcohol addiction" was given to 45,000 regional citizens. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of alcohol addicts do not apply for medical aid, some of them have courses of treatment in the private hospitals. A positive tendency consists in the decrease of the number of cases of alcohol psychosis. "The Krasnoyarsk Territory was the third in the country on this criteria a few years ago. We had one case per 1,000. 74 cases of psychosis per 100,000 people were registered in 2005, while in 2006 there were 65 cases," Kulakov told.
Posted 20 September 2007; 4:30:46 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 August 2007) -- An isolated Labrador community has been without a dentist for three years, and people who live there say they're struggling to get dental care outside the town. Since there has been no dentist practising in the Innu community of Natuashish, Labrador Grenfell Health has been flying people with dental emergencies to Happy Valley-Goose Bay. But people who live in the tiny community of about 700 said finding space on that plane to obtain dental care is hard. Natuashish resident, Simeon Tshakapesh, said he's been waiting for three weeks to see a dentist in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "I think it's infected," Tshakapesh told CBC News. "I had a root canal done on my tooth and it's really really bothering me." Tshakapesh works for the Mushuau Innu First Nation and usually gets to see the dentist when he travels to other communities for work. But he said many people who don't leave the community often have a hard time getting help. "We usually try to get on the Health Labrador mission plane," he said. "The people who have doctors' appointments get on and the dental patients usually get bumped off, and it's been very difficult to see the dentist."
Posted 23 August 2007; 2:08:39 PM. Permalink
(Ajunnginiq (Inuit) Centre press release, 20 August 2007) -- OTTAWA, ON – Today the Ajunnginiq (Inuit) Centre is celebrating the healthy birth of its trilingual information Web site on Inuit midwifery, maternity care, birthing and infant health in the North. The Web site, located at http://www.inuitmidwifery.ca, is available in Inuktitut, English and French. The site is rich with resources, including research reports and news clippings on Inuit and western midwifery, notices of conferences of interest to midwives, a listing of training courses at northern colleges for maternity care workers, and much more. The Web site was developed to serve as tool for the Irnisuksiiniq – Inuit Midwifery Network. Irnisuksiiniq is the Inuktitut noun for midwifery. Inuit midwives inspired the Ajunnginiq Centre to create the Network and its information services: the Web site and an email listserv. At the Aboriginal Women and Girls’ Health Roundtable in 2005, midwives from Nunavik and Nunavut spoke of the need for a strong connection between midwives in different Inuit regions and a way to share useful resources with each other.
Posted 23 August 2007; 1:46:51 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 20 August 2007) -- A Canadian research scientist is using frozen blood samples, taken two decades ago from thousands of people across the North, in hopes of revealing new clues about hepatitis B. The 14,000 samples, collected about 20 years ago from people in communities across the Northwest Territories and modern-day Nunavut, have since been kept frozen in an Alberta laboratory. Now, as part of an International Polar Year research project, scientists are putting the samples through current research technology to learn more about various strains of the blood-borne virus. "This is a tremendous resource, really, for Canada and particularly for the Arctic region, because I can say that there really is no other sample set like this in the world," said Dr. Carla Osiowy, a research scientist with the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Lab in Winnipeg. "It's providing us with a snapshot in time of what has occurred with hepatitis B virus." Osiowy said she has found a new sub-genotype&mash;a strain within a strain—of hepatitis B among people in Nunavut, related to a strain found in Japan. She said this particular strain produces a milder form of the disease in which those infected carry the virus but are otherwise healthy.
Posted 23 August 2007; 1:46:18 PM. Permalink
(James Halpin/Anchorage Daily News, 16 July 2007) -- Ancient Alaska Native healing techniques will soon supplement modern-day treatments for mental health ailments afflicting Alaskans returning from service in the Middle East. Many Alaska National Guard soldiers come from isolated villages. Few have doctors; fewer yet have mental health professionals. So traditional healers like Kenny Timberwolf will use talking circles, steam houses and subsistence hunts to help Native soldiers relieve their stress. "Honoring them and welcoming them home as a veteran isn't enough," said Timberwolf, an Alaska Native shaman. "It has to go a lot deeper." Timberwolf said like others, some Native veterans will have problems readjusting to life at home when they return in October, and Bush communities, because of their extreme isolation, need to start preparing now for their arrival. "That lingering feeling of being in combat is going to be there," he said. The soldiers, who are part of the largest Alaska National Guard deployment since World War II, have been gone for almost a year. The unit represents 81 different communities and more than a half dozen cultures, including Eskimos, Tlingits, Haidas, Aleuts and Athabascans.
Posted 17 July 2007; 1:28:01 AM. Permalink
(Silu Circumpolar News, 4 July 2007) -- The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most devastating single disease outbreak in modern history, and public health researchers say examining the virus that caused it may help prepare for, and possibly prevent, future pandemics. Scientists wanted to find preserved samples of the 1918 influenza virus, and they did in Alaska. The 1918 influenza pandemic was the most devastating single disease outbreak in modern history, and public health researchers say examining the virus that caused it may help prepare for, and possibly prevent, future pandemics. When the complete sequence of the 1918 virus was published in 2005, it represented a watershed event for influenza researchers worldwide. In an article in the journal Antiviral Therapy, scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, tell the story of how scientists discovered samples of the 1918 strain in fixed autopsy tissues and in the body of a woman buried in the Alaskan permafrost. The article places this discovery in the context of decades of research into the cause of pandemic influenza, and the authors detail the strange convergence of events that allowed them to recover and sequence the virus in the first place because its genetic material is so fragile that it should not have survived for days, let alone decades. In a mass grave in an Inupiat village near the town of Brevig Mission, Alaska a large Inupiat woman lay buried under more than six feet of ice and dirt for more than 75 years. The permafrost plus the woman's ample fat stores kept the virus in her lungs so well preserved that when a team of scientists exhumed her body in the late 1990s, they could recover enough viral RNA to sequence the 1918 strain in its entirety. [See also the NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release "Scientists describe how 1918 influenza virus sample was exhumed in Alaska," 4 July 2007.]
Posted 4 July 2007; 12:49:54 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 3 July 2007) -- The Nunavut hamlet of Kugluktuk has banned alcohol temporarily while the local RCMP has asbestos removed from its detachment building. The ban, which took effect June 26, prohibits importing alcohol into the hamlet of about 1,300 located 430 kilometres west of Cambridge Bay in western Nunavut. Kugluktuk RCMP asked the local council for the ban in the hopes of reducing the number of offenders they'd have to deal with while working outside the detachment building. "This is something that some people in the community are against," deputy mayor Allen Niptanatiak told CBC News. Passing the ban was a difficult decision, he added, "but it's something that we have to try … because this is our community as well, and everyone needs to pitch in a little bit." Last week, contractors renovating the RCMP detachment building accidentally disturbed a small amount of asbestos in the furnace room. Some particles became airborne, which presents a safety risk because inhalation of asbestos dust and fibre can cause lung diseases such as asbestosis and cancer.
Posted 3 July 2007; 2:01:49 PM. Permalink
(Bellona, 2 July 2007) -- The Arkhangelsk Environmental Information Agency “ECOnet” believes that this updated contract, which does not in any way compensate for years of destruction, is nothing new for the people of the region, who have been suffering from falling rocket debris. The highest population death rate from cancer has been in the Mezenski Region where the Plesetsk State Launch Site has been used as a dump for falling rocket debris. A retrospective study was run on the Mezensky district’s population from 1955 to 2002 to look at the fluctuations in cancer deaths in the Arkhangelsk region. In an interview with “ECOnet,” Doctor of medical sciences Svetlana Sovershayeva reported that “the study showed that the death rate increased at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s when rockets began to use heptyl fuel mixtures, and then began to stabilise itself later on. Sovershayeva noted that the poor development of the digestive system is the main reason for the Mezensky district’s cancer deaths. Cancer deaths are put at 94.6 percent of the region’s population of 100,000, while the rest of the Arkhangelsk District rounds out at 59.6 percent.
Posted 2 July 2007; 4:44:57 PM. Permalink
(Sara Minogue/Globe and Mail, 8 June 2007)** -- IQALUIT — For centuries, Inuit living in Canada's Arctic spent months without sunlight, and lifetimes wearing thick, fur clothing that blocked the sunlight from their dark skin. Mother Nature provided vitamin D in other ways. Instead of making it through sun exposure, the Inuit got a healthy dose from traditional foods that happen to be rich in vitamin D: the skin of Arctic char; seal liver; the yolks of bird and fish eggs; and seal, walrus and whale blubber. But as the Arctic has changed, so have eating habits. While seal and char are still staples in Nunavut's isolated communities, walrus and whale consumption have been in decline for 30 years. The result is vitamin D deficiency, which surfaces as rickets, a disease most Canadians might be surprised to hear still exists in Canada. Thirty-one new cases of rickets were discovered in the first five years of Nunavut's creation. "It's not something that is actually spoken about much in public health," Isaac Sobol, Nunavut's chief medical officer of health, said. "It's almost a disease of the past, or other populations." Rickets appears in children, and is often identified by bowleggedness in its more advanced phase. The disease is so rare in most of Canada that while Dr. Sobol has Nunavut's numbers on hand, he has no national statistics with which to compare them. The signs of deficiency don't bode well at a time when new research suggests that a lack of vitamin D is linked to high cancer rates in northern countries. To address the problem, public-health officials in Nunavut have developed programs that put them on the cutting edge of vitamin D promotion.
Posted 9 June 2007; 2:55:58 PM. Permalink
(sciencePoles, 24 May 2007) -- As climate change progresses, the Polar Regions are changing more rapidly than any other region of the planet. No one has noticed these changes more than those who belong to indigenous peoples living in the Arctic. Given the specific indigenous knowledge that has helped these communities survive in such harsh conditions for millennia coupled with the fact that the Polar Regions are a bellwether region of the planet when it comes to climate change, this is all the more reason to pay attention to what is happening to those who have intimate knowledge of the Arctic and its environment. Indigenous communities from all across the circumpolar region have been witnessing and feeling the effects of climate change. Each community is distinct, and the individual problems each community faces as a result of climate change vary from community to community. This article aims to give a broad understanding of indigenous arctic communities and the challenges they face in adapting to climate change.
Posted 26 May 2007; 9:36:47 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 25 May 2007) -- Aboriginal groups from Labrador are hoping a technological innovation from Australia will eliminate a long-running problem with solvent abuse. Representatives of the Innu Nation and the Nunatsiavut Inuit self-government are in Australia this week to learn more about a type of gasoline that will not make users high after they sniff it. The group is visiting Papunya, a small aboriginal community in the Australian outback, where residents have endured the ravages of gas sniffing. It's a familiar issue in Labrador, particularly in Natuashish, a community on Labrador's northern coast that was built by the federal government to help solve chronic social problems in the Innu village of Davis Inlet. Shocking images of children in Davis Inlet getting high by sniffing gas from small plastic bags were broadcast around the world in the mid-1990s, helping to spark the drive to build Natuashish. Problems like gas sniffing, however, have not gone away.
Posted 25 May 2007; 8:41:07 PM. Permalink
(Siku Circumpolar News, 15 May 2007) -- Preventing alcoholism requires more than banning alcohol sales, a sociologist who uncovered drastic alcohol-related child neglect problems in Qaanaaq told Ritzau. The government's move to ban alcohol sales in the town of Qaanaaq is not enough to prevent alcoholism and child abuse, says Karen Littauer, author of a report that painted a picture of the town as one full of drunk parents unable to care for their children. The government laid down the ban on Friday against the will of the municipal council. Littauer, who lived in Qaanaaq for three months while doing her research, said even though the children in the town benefited from the ban, it would not stop illegal sales of alcohol. "We risk having people drinking methyl alcohol or even beginning to distill their own. Greenland has a bad history of that sort of thing," she said. Littauer also criticised the government for imposing the ban without having sent a representative to Qaanaaq. She warned cutting off sales to an entire community of substance abusers would result in mass depression and hysteria. "They should have waited until they were there and had assigned all the social workers that would be needed to deal with the problem." [See "No more booze for Qaanaaq, Greenland" (13 May 2007).]
Posted 16 May 2007; 12:30:23 AM. Permalink
(Charlie Fidelman/The Gazette, 20 April 2007) -- While aboriginal communities need to draw on their cultural strengths for internal solutions to tackle a suicide epidemic, they also require outside help, delegates at an international meeting on indigenous child health care said Friday. “We need help and we must say, ‘Enough’ (to the problems leading to suicide),” Stacey Bohlen, executive director of the National Indian Health Board, U.S.A., told about 270 people gathered at a Montreal hotel. In Canada, the suicide rate is particularly high among the Inuit population of Nunavik--seven times the national rate of 11.3 per 100,000 people. In some remote villages, the suicide rate among youth is staggering--up to 11 times the Canadian average, said Mary Simon of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Canada’s national Inuit organization. “The numbers speak for the issue; it should be considered an epidemic,” said Simon, Canada’s leading aboriginal diplomat and a former president of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the international body that unites Inuit from Canada, the United States, Russia and Greenland, which belongs to Denmark. “It always overshadows the communities, even the healthy communities,” Simon said. Suicide rates are influenced by poor economy and unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness and sexual abuse, experts say. “But each community has its own problem. It’s not the same across the Arctic,” said Simon, who is working for a treatment centre with “good diagnostics” and more resources, including training for local health care workers.
Posted 29 April 2007; 2:49:39 AM. Permalink
(Reuters, 27 April 2007) -- HELSINKI - Finnish scientists hope reindeer living in the Arctic Circle could help find a cure for a disfiguring tropical disease. Researchers have found filarioidea-family maggots -- responsible for elephantiasis in humans -- in reindeer in Kuusamo, less than 100 km from the Arctic Circle. They are now studying how the spread of the worm could be prevented. "From trying to stop this worm (in reindeer) we can get information that could be meaningful in the fight against elephantiasis," Professor Antti Oksanen from Finnish food safety authority Evira told Reuters on Friday. Elephantiasis, known officially as lymphatic filariasis, is a disfiguring disease spread by mosquitoes to humans. It can cause limbs to swell up to several times of their normal size, as well as fever and pain. It seems filarioidea worms do not cause any diseases in reindeer and have not spread to cattle, Oksanen said.
Posted 28 April 2007; 12:10:04 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 16 April 2007) -- A citizens' committee in Labrador's most northerly town wants to reduce access to alcohol, although the owner of Nain's only bar doubts the proposal will work. The Nain Alcohol Committee wants a bar in the community to reduce its hours, in order to curb long-running problems with alcohol abuse in the largely Inuit community. The Atsanik Lodge opens at 4 p.m. The committee wants the opening pushed back to 7 p.m. "Well, there's a lot of concerns, I guess, regarding the bar hours opening at 4 o'clock, and again, from the youth, there [were] some concerns that they were going home to their supper at 5 o'clock, and there was no supper prepared," said committee member George Lyall. Tony Goodwin, who owns the Atsanik Lodge, said a similar move was attempted in the past, but made things worse. "What we found is that we were too restrictive. People got drunk too quick — that's what it boiled down to," he said. "We expanded the hours and it certainly helped, so I just don't see why the town wants to restrict us." Goodwin added a later opening will cut into his bottom line.
Posted 16 April 2007; 1:46:29 PM. Permalink
(University of Alberta press release via EurekAlert! 13 April 2007) -- Childhood obesity is increasing among the general population in Canada, but the statistics are even more alarming among First Nations, Inuit and Métis children. In a study published recently in the American Journal of Public Health, University of Alberta researchers found that up to 65 per cent of Cree preschoolers in northern Quebec communities were overweight or obese. Dr. Noreen Willows, a community nutritionist at the University of Alberta, and her colleagues also studied obesity levels in Cree schoolchildren aged 9 to 12 living in two Cree Nations north of Montreal, Canada. The researchers measured height, body mass, waist circumference and skinfold thickness, and also assessed the children’s levels of physical activity and physical fitness. The results from one community, published in the International Journal of Circumpolar Health, indicated of the 82 participating children, 33 per cent were overweight and 38 per cent were obese.
Posted 13 April 2007; 12:37:36 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 12 April 2007) -- Bannock, berries, wild game and canned milk are part of a new version of Canada's Food Guide, created specifically for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. "With this guide, First Nations, Inuit and Métis will have a tool to make more informed choices and nurture a healthy future by building on the traditions and values of a proud past and present," Federal Health Minister Tony Clement said after unveiling the new food guide at a Yellowknife school Wednesday. It's the first time Canada's Food Guide has been tailored to meet any specific ethnic cultures in Canada, Clement said. "In the previous version of the food guide, there had been some efforts to particularize it, but it was not really a national project," he said. "What we did in this version … is to make it as part of a national project to really focus in on Inuit, Métis and First Nations populations and make sure we've covered that angle better than we've done in the past." Like the standard guide, the aboriginal version shows how many servings people of varying age groups can choose from each of the four food groups every day, along with explanations on how much food makes a serving.
Posted 13 April 2007; 11:37:30 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 30 March 2007) -- A Quebec production company has been holding auditions in Iqaluit this week for parts in a movie about a Baffin Island hunter suffering from tuberculosis. Set in 1952, the story follows Tiivii, a hunter who's taken away from his family by the C.D. Howe medical ship and ends up in a sanatorium near Quebec City. The script is by Bernard Émond, who wrote La Neuvaine, and directed by Benoît Pilon, creator of the 2005 documentary Roger Toupin, épicier variété, about Montreal's disappearing variety stores. About 60 people from Iqaluit have shown interest in film roles, said Meeka Kilabuk, who assisted Pilon. "I've had about 60 who called and then we took a lot of pictures and it's up to the director to select, screen those pictures and decide how many of those people he wants to see," she said in an interview with CBC Radio. Pilon said the film, called Ce qu'il faut pour vivre or Necessities of Life, will chronicle a year spent by the hunter in a southern sanatorium.
Posted 2 April 2007; 2:31:43 AM. Permalink
(Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 29 March 2007) -- This report is the fifth in a series that looks at some of the social, demographic and economic changes experienced by Inuit in Canada over the past 20 years. Based on census information, it provides information on the knowledge and use of Inuktitut among those of Inuit ancestry from 1981 to 2001. This report is based on research initially carried out by Jeremy Hull (2002) and has been developed by the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami in collaboration with the Strategic Research and Analysis Directorate (SRAD) of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC). See Inuit Social Trends Series - Knowledge and Use of Inuktitut Among Inuit in Canada, 1981-2001 (PDF 58 Kb) in PDF format.
Posted 30 March 2007; 2:08:57 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 23 March 2007) -- Vacant nursing positions in Labrador and northern Newfoundland are such a major concern for health officials, that they're taking a new approach to attracting professionals to the north. The Labrador Grenfell Health Authority is hoping to solve their staffing problem by offering nursing students thousands of dollars in bursaries, in turn for a commitment to go north when they finish school. Dave Tucker, vice president of human resources with the health authority, said being short on staff means current nurses in Labrador get little relief. "We have 20 permanent positions open and 20 relief positions open," Tucker said. "When you have the two, you have a bit of a serious problem; your existing nurses have to work longer than they would like and can't get the time off they would like." The health authority will now offer nursing students in their last year of school, $5,000 to work in Labrador. They're also targeting first-year students, offering them up to $20,000 — $5,000 for each year of their nursing program — if they commit to four years of work when they finish school.
Posted 25 March 2007; 5:40:14 PM. Permalink
(Huliq, 21 March 2007) -- A newly released survey of indigenous Arctic people indicates that an overwhelming majority of the region's native people think traditional pursuits such as hunting, boat-building and manufacturing crafts are important to their identity. Unique because it measured quality of life and involved them in data gathering, the survey also says a substantial portion engages in traditional activities in addition to working in the cash economy. "Four decades ago, as wage work rapidly became more common in the north, scientists and policymakers assumed that indigenous people would take advantage of opportunities to participate in the cash economy, abandoning harvest and traditional food processing activities," report notes. The survey results indicate that despite lifestyle changes that have swept into northern communities as non-natives move to remote areas, traditional values still are important to native peoples, and they are willing to use their earnings in the cash economy to support those ways of life. Despite historical efforts by national governments to assimilate native peoples and encourage them to give up native traditions in favor of wage labor, nine out of 10 Inuit continue to think traditional activities are important to their identity. The findings come from the "Survey of Living Conditions in the Arctic (SLiCA)," which was produced through a partnership of indigenous peoples and researchers from the United States, Canada, Greenland, Russia, Norway, Sweden, and Finland.
Posted 21 March 2007; 9:10:32 PM. Permalink
(CBC News, 14 March 2007) -- A study by the federal Northern Contaminants Program has found reduced levels of lead and mercury in traditional foods. Over the past three years, hair and blood samples donated by pregnant women at the Inuvik Regional Hospital were tested for the presence of lead, mercury and PCBs. Compared with a similar study done in 2000, the recent tests found smaller amounts of two of the three contaminants than before, researcher Barb Armstrong said Tuesday. "We found the lead levels actually showed a decrease, as well as the mercury levels," she said. "You really need to put this type of research in context that has meaning to communities." Armstrong is currently presenting her results in a series of cooking workshops throughout the Inuvik area. She is also distributing traditional food cookbooks in order to encourage people to keep eating those foods. A traditional Inuit diet is based on fish and game animals, but some pollutants such as PCBs and dioxins can build up in the animals' fat as a result of those pollutants travelling in air and water currents to the Arctic from distant regions. Still, researchers encourage people who follow traditional diets to continue eating such foods, as they tend to be healthier than processed foods.
Posted 15 March 2007; 2:36:01 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 24 January 2007) -- The Yukon's most remote community, Old Crow, has chalked up more than 10 years without a suicide. Home of the Vuntut Gwitchin, the largely First Nation community of 270 in the northern Yukon has no road access to the rest of the territory. The First Nation finalized its land claims in the mid-1990s and is now self-governing. An alcohol ban established 16 years ago remains in place. First Nation council member Esau Schaefer says the people are happier now, in part because there are more jobs. "In the past year we had a lot of employment for our community and that really helped our community a lot," he told CBC News in a recent interview. The guidance provided by the community's leaders and elders has also helped when problems arise, he said. Community nurse Pat Arey says residents still have personal challenges but now they are more willing to talk about their problems. The people of Old Crow are closely tied to their traditional way of life, which includes hunting the Porcupine caribou herd and fishing for salmon from the Porcupine and Old Crow rivers.
Posted 25 January 2007; 12:04:31 AM. Permalink
(Aftenposten, 11 January 2007) -- Residents of Hammerfest and Kautokeino in the far north of Norway have more environmental toxins in their bodies than feared, and now Tromsø residents will be tested. Substances like Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), the insecticide DDT, and mercury, transported northwards by water and air, have been found stored in the fat layers of arctic animals in worrying quantities. Researchers are now concerned that the potentially genetically damaging effects of these and other toxins may be a factor in human health. "We have found clearly measurable levels, and the concentration is higher than we believed," said associate professor Yngve Figenschau and Professor Jan Brox at the University of Tromsø and the Northern Norway University Hospital. They are now extending their study to include a special project in a study of Tromsø, where the toxin levels in blood samples from about 12,000 residents will be studied. The pilot study in Finnmark County only included 50 people, and the investigation about to begin in Tromsø is the first examination of environmental toxins on such a large group of people.
Posted 11 January 2007; 3:37:08 AM. Permalink
(Elena Larionova/Euroarctic.org, 2 January 2007) -- For the fist time in modern Russian history the number of inhabitants in Murmansk has stopped decreasing. Since 1989, from the beginning of the perestroika, the population of Murmansk City has been in a constant decrease by 7-8 thousand citizens every year. The main reasons are that inhabitants have moved to other places in Russian and that the birth rates have been lower than the death rates. In 2006 the number of inhabitants is kept on the same level as in 2005. Now it amounts to 320,900 persons. "People begin to believe that Murmansk offers good prospects," says Mikhail Savchenko, Mayor of Murmansk.
Posted 3 January 2007; 1:38:02 AM. Permalink
(CBC News, 28 December 2006) -- A gas pipeline and other development that promise jobs and profits for northern communities may also hurt smaller hamlets and villages, says an Ottawa professor. Carleton University professor Frances Abele has been researching northern government policy for a decade and began leading a $1.75-million project in September to look at how northern communities respond to large governments and corporations. "Low high school attainment, high suicide rates, other symptoms of social disorder — these are a legacy of colonialism and of the rapid pace of development," Abele said during a panel discussion in Ottawa earlier this month. Abele said people leaving to work on the proposed Mackenzie Valley pipeline will create labour shortages in their home communities, may spend their money in larger centres instead of at home and face challenges when the projects are complete and the jobs are gone. She took part in the panel discussion alongside northern leaders at an economic forum in Ottawa on Dec., 13. She also reminded northern decision-makers to be accountable for their actions.
Posted 28 December 2006; 9:47:31 PM. Permalink
(Public Library of Science press release via EurekAlert, 20 December 2006) -- A team from the Institut Pasteur has recently shown that the tuberculosis bacillus hides from the immune system in its host's fat cells. This formidable pathogen is protected against even the most powerful antibiotics in these cells, in which it may remain dormant for years. This discovery, published in PLoS ONE, sheds new light on possible strategies for fighting tuberculosis. Attempts to eradicate the bacillus entirely from infected individuals should take these newly identified reservoir cells into account. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis can hide, in a dormant state, in adipose cells throughout the body. The bacterium is protected in this cellular environment, to which the natural immune defences have little access, and is inaccessible to isoniazid, one of the main antibiotics used to treat tuberculosis worldwide. These results were obtained by Olivier Neyrolles and his colleagues from the Mycobacterial Genetics Unit directed by Brigitte Gicquel at the Institut Pasteur, in collaboration with Paul Fornès, a pathologist from Hôpital Européen Georges Pompidou. They raise questions of considerable importance in the fight against tuberculosis. Tuberculosis kills almost two million people worldwide every year and is considered by the World Health Organisation to represent a global health emergency. However, the bacillus is much more prevalent in the world's population than the statistics would lead us to believe, because only 5 to 10% of those infected actually develop tuberculosis.
Posted 21 December 2006; 7:44:03 PM. Permalink
(Jorn Madslien/BBC News, 21 December 2006) -- Lovozero, Russia - Bored youths kick a football against a grey concrete wall. A husky dog languishes in the quiet street. In this town, where many would struggle to pay for a bus ticket, there are hardly any cars. "The last villagers came to Lovozero in 1968," says Nina Afanasyeva. "But there were no jobs for them." These days, some make traditional garments and souvenirs for the occasional tourist. And the Tundra reindeer farm cooperative provides some 300 jobs. Yet the majority of the Kola peninsula's indigenous people are unemployed, and in most cases reindeer herding is no longer an option. Instead, many spend their days in cramped apartments or in shacks on the edge of town, where vodka is their only comfort. "People were promised apartments with modern conveniences, but only three people from my village got that," says Ms Afanasyeva, a Sami elder. "The rest moved in with other families. To this day, many still haven't got their own place."
Posted 21 December 2006; 6:53:00 PM. Permalink
(Toronto Star, 16 December 2006) -- New findings announced this week at the annual scientific meeting of ArcticNet, a consortium of Northern researchers, include: The Arctic Ocean is being warmed by a current from the Atlantic Ocean that's pushing counter-clockwise around the Arctic coastline. Water temperatures have risen almost 2C in the Laptev Sea off eastern Siberia. Scientists expect the warmer water to reach Canada's Beaufort Sea in four to five years. Contaminant levels have plunged in the blood of Hudson Bay Inuit, with concentrations of PCBs down by half from a decade ago, and once-elevated lead levels in children are now the same as in the south. A ban on lead shot used for hunting is credited. The progress of ice breakup around Cape Dorset in recent years as remembered by Inuit hunters corresponds closely to satellite images. Mercury concentrations are rising in the Western Arctic among key animal species like the beluga. Warming in the Mackenzie Basin is sending more mercury down the river from erosion, forest fires and melting permafrost. Ground-penetrating radar towed behind a snow machine was successfully used in March to detect unsafe ice conditions near the mouth of the Churchill River, despite a thick snow cover. Next step is to repeat the test from the air, widening the coverage and reducing the hazard to the experimenters. In late summer and fall of 2006, the research icebreaker Amundsen sailed unhindered through parts of the Northwest Passage that are usually impassable. One computer model projects that the entire Arctic Ocean could be almost ice-free in late summer by 2040. (See also "Getting a better picture on the Arctic."
Posted 16 December 2006; 2:20:27 PM. Permalink
(Marie Wadden/The Toronto Star, 15 December 2006)** -- It's a shame Alan Pope, the former Ontario cabinet minister who has recommended the federal government move Kashechewan from James Bay to an area outside of Timmins, didn't speak to Jennifer Wynne when he was on the reserve. She should have been his first stop. Wynne is the community's NNADAP (National Native Alcohol and Drug Addiction Program) worker. That program is 25 years old this year and there's a drug addiction worker on most First Nations reserves who knows why their communities aren't working. "He didn't come to my house, or my office either," Wynne says. "I wish he had." Wynne would have been Anastasia Shkilnyk's first stop. Like Pope, Shkilnyk was sent by the federal government to a reserve devastated by water problems. It was 1976 and the community was Grassy Narrows near Kenora, where mercury from a pulp and paper mill had polluted the local river. She found a community devastated as much by alcohol as by mercury. She documents the social chaos in her book, A Poison Stronger than Love. She learned the downfall of these formerly self-sufficient Ojibway was caused by their forced resettlement from one reserve to another; from self-sufficiency to dependency. A delicate balance in their lives had been upset by policy-makers who went ahead with plans that ignored the wishes of the very people they were supposed to be "helping."
Posted 15 December 2006; 11:17:59 AM. Permalink
(University of Wisconsin-Madison press release, 14 December 2006) -- The discovery of a unique copper-repressing protein in the bacterium that causes tuberculosis in humans may pave the way toward new strategies for halting tuberculosis infection. Scientists have known that when macrophages - the host's immune cells - swallow an invading bacterium, they dump excessive amounts of copper onto the invader in an effort to kill it. While all cells need copper to function, too much of the metal ion causes cell death. "But the invaders fight back with their own defense," says Adel Talaat, a microbiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine. "They block the excess copper." In a paper published in the January 2007 issue of Nature Chemical Biology, Talaat and colleagues from Texas A&M University and University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada describe a unique protein repressor that they have identified as the mechanism used by invading bacterium cells to fight off the host's copper attack. Prior to the discovery of this repressor protein, scientists did not know exactly how invading bacterium protected themselves from copper ions used by the body as a defense against infection. "With this discovery, we can now pursue ways to deactivate the repressor protein," says Talaat. "Our goal is to disable the tuberculosis bacterium from fighting back against the host body's defense mechanisms, so that we can stop tuberculosis."
Posted 14 December 2006; 11:52:13 PM. Permalink