Nunavut leads nation in potentially avoidable deaths: report
Territory also leads in those hospitalized for “self-injury”
Nunavut suffers from the highest per-capita rate of potentially avoidable deaths, said a report issued May 13 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information and Statistics Canada.
At the same time, the territory also suffers from the highest per capita rate of people hospitalized after harming themselves.
“While some risk factors are beyond the control of the health system, high rates of self-injury hospitalization could be interpreted as being the result of the system’s failure to prevent self-injuries that are severe enough to require hospitalization,” a note attached to the study said.
The numbers for 2011-12 show Nunavut’s rate for self-injury hospitalization stands at 383 per 100,000.
That’s much higher than the Canada-wide rate of 67 per 100,000 or the Northwest Territories’ rate of 210 per 100,000.
At the same time, the rate of those hospitalized for mental illness — 737 per 100,000 in Nunavut is lower than in some other jurisdictions, like the NWT, but the Canada-wide rate is 489 per 100,000.
The numbers show that people in Nunavut who are hospitalized for mental illness spend less time in care than many other places: 418 days per 10,000, compared with 707 days per 10,000 across Canada.
And the health institute’s figures also show that a bigger proportion of Nunavummiut die from potentially preventable causes than any other health jurisdiction in Canada.
They show that the death rate due to preventable causes in Nunavut is 447 per 100,000, compared with 263 per 100,000 for the NWT and 183 per 100,000 for Canada.
That adds up to 9,501 years of life lost per 100,000 of population in Nunavut, compared with 3,353 years of life lost for Canada.
Nunavut’s health indicators aren’t all gloomy though.
The per capita rate of those hospitalized for myocardial infarction — heart attacks — ranks among the lowest in Canada at 130 per 100,000, compared with 337 per 100,000 for the NWT and 205 for Canada.
The per capita rate of those hospitalized for strokes is higher, at 145 per 100,000 compared with 121 for Canada.
And a much smaller proportion of child-bearing women in Nunavut —11.3 per cent — give birth by ceasarian section.
That’s much lower than in the NWT, where 21.9 per cent of births are by C-section and Canada-wide, where 27.1 per of births are by C-section.
On the service side, Nunavut also suffered from the lowest per capita rate of family physicians: 33 per 100,000 in 2011, compared with 65 per 100,000 for NWT and 169 per 100,000 for Yukon.
This likely reflects the longstanding staffing problems in Nunavut, where only 10 to 15 family physicians may be working at any given time.
The report listed the number of specialist physicians in Nunavut in 2011 at zero.