Joint Message from the Minister of Health, the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, and the Minister of Northern Affairs – World Tuberculosis Day – March 24, 2021

Statement

Tuberculosis (TB) is a preventable and treatable disease, and yet it remains one of the world's most common infectious diseases. In Canada, TB disproportionately affects Indigenous peoples and vulnerable populations. Today, on World Tuberculosis Day, we reaffirm Canada's commitment with other nations in ending the worldwide TB epidemic by 2030, as set out in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Here at home, we have worked in partnership with Indigenous leaders to accelerate efforts to eliminate this disease. Rapid diagnostics for active TB mean treatment can start earlier, reducing potential transmission of the disease to others. Better tests to identify individuals with latent TB, combined with timely and effective treatment plans, can help further prevent transmission and illness.

But more can be done to strengthen our efforts to address unacceptably high rates of TB in Inuit and First Nations communities. We support equitable, distinctions-based and culturally safe approaches to TB prevention and care. To achieve the goal of TB elimination among First Nations and Inuit, traditional knowledge, perspectives and approaches are being co-developed and integrated into healthcare delivery, while also recognizing the right to self-determination.

This year, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and the Government of Canada reaffirmed their joint March 2018 commitment to eliminate TB across Inuit Nunangat by 2030, and to reduce active TB by at least 50% by 2025. In February 2020, ITK and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) co-hosted a roundtable on research to support TB elimination across Inuit Nunangat. Progress has been driven by ITK's Inuit Tuberculosis Elimination Framework, released in 2018, which highlights the need for enhanced community-wide prevention, screening, early diagnosis and treatment, and calls for concerted action to address the factors that have contributed to unacceptably high rates of TB in some Inuit communities. This framework has been used to create regional action plans to eliminate TB, which have now been implemented and will support the work underway across Inuit Nunangat.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on TB and TB programs in Inuit Nunangat are not yet fully known, and diligent work continues to ensure communities have the resources required to advance their efforts to eradicate TB. We continue to promote partnerships across all levels of government and with Indigenous organizations and leaders to address COVID-19. This momentum can be built upon to support Inuit and First Nations communities in addressing TB.

To eliminate TB, we will continue working with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners, and other parties to address the social determinants of health, including housing, food security, income, and access to culturally-appropriate healthcare. We are working with Indigenous communities on distinctions based housing strategies that are co-developed with First Nations, Inuit and Métis partners to address overcrowding and their housing needs.

The efforts of the many individuals and groups working to improve awareness, prevention and treatment of this preventable disease is appreciated and applauded. It is great to see the hard work undertaken by scientists, professionals, frontline workers, and community members dedicated to helping people in Canada affected by TB to access the information and care they need.

Everyone has a role to play. Visit Canada.ca/Tuberculosis to learn more about TB. The clock is ticking to end TB.

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health

The Honourable Marc Miller, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services Canada

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, MD, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

The Honourable Daniel Vandal, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Northern Affairs

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