Medicine & Dentistry-Medicine
University of Alberta
Indigenous health / Multi-ethnic health / Nutrition Epidemiology / Nutrition Transition / Dietary Assessment / International Nutrition / Global Health Promotion / Health Promotion & Disease Prevention / Healthcare access and experiences / Cancer screening / Maternal and infant health / Senior health
Summary of research:
The Indigenous and Global Health Research Group (IGHRG) was formed in 2010, through the creation of the Alberta Health Services Chair in Indigenous Health, and the appointment of Dr. Sangita Sharma. The focus of the IGHRG is on conducting research and assessments to directly benefit communities. The IGHRG works with communities through a bottom up approach, and aims for long-term benefits through not only assessment, but through delivering interventions and programs to improve health in Indigenous communities. Current research projects involve community-based dietary and lifestyle interventions for health promotion and the prevention of chronic disease among populations undergoing nutrition transition, such as Indigenous and multi-ethnic populations in Alberta, the Canadian Arctic, Alaska, First Nations, Apaches, Navajo, Africa, Brazil, and Hawaii. The IGHRG’s novel approach to collaboration and partnership is changing the model for Indigenous populations and programming in Alberta and abroad. By inviting communities, industry, government and academic partners to the same table, the IGHRG is quickly becoming the hub of a multi-disciplinary network, aimed at evidence-based outcomes, training and capacity building, while meeting the needs of both funding stakeholders, and communities. This network is unlike any other in Canada. By providing evidence-based research, supported and sustained through community-driven programs and evaluations, the group is able to work directly with policy makers in local, provincial, federal, and territorial governments to incite and inform policy decisions. For this reason, the IGHRG is considered a valuable resource, and is consulted directly by all levels of government, both in Canada, and abroad. Through relationships with multiple Indigenous organizations and community partners that have been established and cultivated, the University of Alberta has already been highlighted as a leader in program development. Communities are now requesting the group’s advice and involvement directly. The number of these community requests and the need for assistance will only increase. By looking to alternative funding sources and relationships, and building on the strong ties with other academic partners, both within faculties at the University of Alberta, and with several educational institutions outside of our campus, the IGHRG seeks to fill these requests to strengthen communities , thereby promoting economic development and saving costs in both industry and public spending. By actively including industry in this discussion, and speaking to corporate responsibility while conducting direct research and program delivery, this network will provide new sources of funding, while fostering existing and new connections between business and the University of Alberta. This innovative of the IGHRG model benefits all partners involved, including the communities, industry, policy makers, and the University of Alberta, both financially, and also through an emphasis on community-based, multi-sectoral, and multi-disciplinary research and capacity building. It is through building this unique partnership that the IGHRG can be seen as a leader and a key resource in Indigenous health and wellness, with not only a local, but a truly global reach.