First Nations health services are in an abominable state, and the remedy is self-government, says the Canadian Medical Association. Improving the nuts and bolts of health care is only part of the solution for the health problems. In a recent brief to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, the association called on Ottawa to quickly settle First Nations land claims and give First Nations greater control over their communities through self-government. “The underlying roots of the problem must be addressed,” said the association, which represents health professionals.

The brief said improvements in health care can only occur with input from First Nations.

First Nations people die an average of 10 years sooner than the Canadian average; First Nations children die at twice the rate of other children; and rare diseases like tuberculosis and meningitis flourish in many First Nations communities. The association called on doctors to be more receptive to aboriginal approaches to healing.