Nunavik community health care sub-standard: Quebec doctors’ representative

Quebec College of Physicians president plans to raise awareness with government

Dr. Mauril Gaudreault, the president of Quebec doctors’ professional order, left, wearing a masks, visits Kuujjuaq’s hospital and its staff, during a stop there last week. (Photo courtesy of Collège des Médecins du Québec)

By Cedric Gallant - Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The president of the Quebec College of Physicians says he plans to raise awareness of the shortcomings of medical care in Nunavik after visiting the region recently.

Dr. Mauril Gaudreault, president of the Quebec College of Physicians, visited Nunavik last week. (Photo courtesy of Collège des Médecins du Québec)

Dr. Mauril Gaudreault was in Kuujjuaq from May 24 to 27 as part of his tour of medical facilities around the province.

“The conditions of practice for doctors in Nunavik are unlike all practices found elsewhere in Quebec,” he said in an interview by video call, conducted in French.

“In the majority of the communities, blood samples cannot be taken, neither [can] chest radiographies.”

The college is the professional organization for physicians in Quebec. Part of its mandate is to monitor and evaluate medical practices in the province and to provide recommendations for improvements.

In Nunavik, the lack of equipment in community clinics often forces patients to travel by plane to hospitals in Puvirnituq and Kuujjuaq for treatment.

Gaudreault said “there is a minimum [standard of care] that should be attained, and this one is way too low,” but added “it may be impossible to make certain lab exams [available] in each village.”

With tuberculosis outbreaks that can still happen in remote villages in the North, Gaudreault said “I feel like it would not be complicated to have chest radiographs in each village.”

While College of Physicians representatives have visited Nunavik in the past, this was the first trip there by a president of the organization and also Gaudreault’s first visit to the region.

He noted a prominent factor that makes the region different from the rest of Quebec is the trauma brought upon Nunavimmiut by actions of colonialism.

“With the doctors of Quebec, we can take action to alleviate it all. We are a professional order there to protect the public,” he said.

“We can have a certain influence over lawmakers. As doctors, we could unite to know what actions should we ask of them, like raising awareness within the government and [with] Health Minister Christian Dubé.”

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