Knowledge Resources & Publications

ISBN (Print) : 978-1-77368-472-7 | ISBN (Online) :978-1-77368-473-4

Regine Halseth

Considerations, implications, and best practices for public health surveillance in Indigenous communities

July 2024

Public health surveillance involves ongoing systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of health-related data, with the goal of informing public health action. In Canada, the responsibility for public health surveillance is shared across local, regional, provincial/territorial, and federal health agencies. This has produced ineffective and uncoordinated public health surveillance systems, resulting in severe gaps in the scope and coverage of surveillance data. Nowhere are these gaps and inequities more notable than in relation to Indigenous health data.

New and existing challenges and opportunities in relation to public health surveillance are driving efforts to build better coordinated, equitable, and effective public health surveillance systems across Canada. This report aims to inform public health policy makers and decision makers in their efforts to reform public health surveillance in Canada in ways that better respond to the needs and priorities of Indigenous Peoples and communities. It reviews literature on public health surveillance in Indigenous communities to identify what works and does not work in relation to Indigenous health. The report begins by providing an overview of the colonial history of public health surveillance in Indigenous communities and the legacy of mistrust it left behind. It then discusses key challenges that exist in relation to current public health surveillance practices in Indigenous communities, examines issues and opportunities in relation to Indigenous data sovereignty and governance, and provides examples of best and promising practices in Indigenous contexts.

View or download the report (PDF)

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