Kivalliq Inuit women travelling to Manitoba for birthing: findings from the Qanuinngitsiarutiksait study

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Lavoie, Josée G.
Clark, Wayne
McDonnell, Leah
Nickel, Nathan
Dutton, Rachel
Kanayok, Janet
Anawak, Jack
Anawak, Caroline
Brown, Levinia
Clark, Grace V.
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Abstract Background The Qanuinngitsiarutiksait study aimed to develop detailed profiles of Inuit health service utilization in Manitoba, by Inuit living in Manitoba (approximately 1,500) and by Inuit from the Kivalliq region of Nunavut who travel to Manitoba to access care not available in Nunavut (approximately 16,000 per year). Methods We used health administrative data routinely collected in Manitoba for all services provided and developed an algorithm to identify Inuit in the dataset. This paper focused on health services used by Inuit from the Kivalliq for prenatal care and birthing. Results Our study found that approximately 80 percent of births to women from the Kivalliq region occur in Manitoba, primarily in Winnipeg. When perinatal care and birthing are combined, they constitute one third of all consults happening by Kivalliq residents in Manitoba. For scale, hospitalizations for childbirths to Kivalliq women about to only 5 percent of all childbirth-related hospitalizations in Manitoba. Conclusions The practice of evacuating women from the Kivalliq for perinatal care and birthing is rooted in colonialism, rationalized as ensuring that women whose pregnancy is at high risk have access to specialized care not available in Nunavut. While defendable, this practice is costly, and does not provide Inuit women a choice as to where to birth. Attempts at relocating birthing to the north have proven complex to operationalize. Given this, there is an urgent need to develop Inuit-centric and culturally appropriate perinatal and birthing care in Manitoba.
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 2022 Nov 23;22(1):870