OTTAWA, June 24 (UPI) -- The Canadian government delayed sending alcohol-based hand sanitizer to Indian reservations battling the H1N1 flu virus out of fears people would drink it.
The news emerged Tuesday in Ottawa when Kim Barker, public health adviser for the Assembly of First Nations, spoke to the Senate committee on aboriginal people, the Globe and Mail reported.
"People were spending days discussing the pros and cons of a non-alcohol-based hand sanitizer versus an alcohol-based one because of the concerns about addictions in communities," she said.
Anne-Marie Robinson, assistant deputy minister of Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, confirmed the allegations dating back to May when reservations in Manitoba were hard hit by the virus first named swine flu.
"We have had some rare experiences in our communities where we have had theft of hand sanitizers," she said. "We do have communities where we have large proportions of people who suffer from addiction."
The government eventually began shipping sanitizer to reservations, where the sale of alcohol is banned, the newspaper said.