Inclusion of Naturopaths in Northern Ontario Primary Care: A Proposed Solution for The Health Human Resources Shortage
The shortage of primary healthcare practitioners, such as physicians and nurses, in northern Ontario has persisted for
decades despite multiple strategies to address it. Poor health outcomes for people living in northern Ontario must be viewed through an equity lens that takes into account the multiple proximal, intermediate, and distal social determinants of health, including, but not limited to, the impact of colonization and continued colonialism on the health of Indigenous Peoples, challenges in housing, education and employment, as well as lack of food security. The increase in chronic health conditions in northern Ontario and the need for interprofessional healthcare teams that offer patient-centred care are key issues. Whole person care that takes into consideration the integration of body, mind, and spirit is central to Indigenous concepts of health and wellness, as well as being central to the foundations of naturopathic medical philosophy. Inclusion of naturopathic doctors in publicly funded multi-disciplinary primary healthcare settings is proposed as an achievable strategy to fill gaps in health human resources and advance the movement towards holistic care for Indigenous Peoples and others living in northern Ontario.
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