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    NNSL Photo/Graphic

    Nurse Diane McGlade, left, reviews questionnaires with Tuktoyaktuk's Community Research Assistant Marjorie Ovayuak. Nurses will be travelling to Inuvialuit communities in the NWT to collect health data from residents in the coming weeks. - photo courtesy of Stephanie McDonald

    Health survey resumes in Delta

    Brodie Thomas
    Northern News Services
    Published Monday, August 18, 2008

    BEAUFORT-DELTA - If you live on the Arctic coast, don't be surprised if a nurse shows up in the next few weeks asking you for a toenail clipping.

    Nurses and researchers with the International Polar Year (IPY) are conducting an Inuit Health survey in just about every Inuit and Inuvialuit community in the North. The Icebreaker Amundsen will be travelling to coastal communities in the NWT and Nunavut to act as a floating clinic.

    Randomly chosen residents will be asked to watch a short video, complete a survey and undergo a few medical tests.

    Professor Grace Egeland is the principal investigator for the IPY Inuit Health Survey. She said much of the Eastern Arctic was surveyed last year. This year researchers will travel to Tuktoyaktuk from Resolute, stopping at communities along the way. They will then voyage inland to Aklavik, Inuvik and Baker Lake to collect data there as well.

    "We'll have a very comprehensive geographic assessment of Inuit health," said Egeland.

    She hopes the information will empower community leaders so they can take action on certain health concerns.

    The survey is the largest of its kind ever undertaken. Nurses and co-ordinators have been arriving in communities in advance of the Amundsen's arrival to prepare for the surveys.

    Joan Fraser is the land team supervisor who was in Paulatuk preparing. She said 40 households were chosen at random to take part in the survey.

    Nobody has to take part, and participants are free to leave at any time, she said. Those who do sign up get a trip to the icebreaker.

    "We book them to see the nurses on this ship. So it's like a floating clinic," said Fraser.

    Tests include height and weight measurements, a heart health test, a diabetes test, a neck ultrasound to check for risk of stroke, and bone density test for women over 40. Researchers also take a toenail clipping to test for selenium.

    "We can look at selenium, which is abundant in country food," said Egeland. "So when we get a toenail clipping we can see who is eating country food and who isn't."

    She said Selenium is an antioxidant that can protect against certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes.

    The researchers have hired people in every community to help with translation and co-ordination of the study.

    Herbert Nakimayak is a Paulatuk resident who has been hired on as a community research assistant.

    "I think this will be a good opportunity for people to get a better understanding of their health," said Nakimayak.