The Government of Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami commit to eliminating tuberculosis across Inuit Nunangat by 2030
Active TB cases to be reduced by at least 50% by 2025
March 23, 2018 - Ottawa, ON - Indigenous Services Canada
In 2016, the incidence of tuberculosis (TB) among Inuit in Inuit Nunangat was more than 300 times higher than in the Canadian-born, non-Indigenous population. This staggering and unacceptable reality has been trending upward for the last decade and needs to change.
Today, to mark World TB Day, the Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, and the President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), Natan Obed, announced their commitment to eliminating TB across Inuit Nunangat by 2030, and reduce active TB by at least 50% by 2025. This will be achieved through an Elimination Action Framework led by the previously announced TB Task Force.
Among the first priorities are to prevent deaths related to delays in diagnosis and to eliminate TB disease in young children. Elimination plans in each of the four Inuit regions that make up Inuit Nunangat will be developed and tailored to regional strengths and requirements. Regional plans will include enhanced public health programs and capacity-building within communities to enable earlier diagnosis, leading to earlier treatment of active TB disease and latent TB infection. Awareness efforts will also be undertaken to increase understanding of TB in order to help reduce transmission and address stigmatization.
In order to meet these aggressive target dates, special emphasis will be placed on work to address social inequities and improve Inuit social determinants of health that are closely linked to TB; such as housing, food security and nutrition, access to health services and mental wellness.
The Government of Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami recognize that a multi-faceted, collaborative, and Inuit-driven approach to eliminating TB is critical to success.
This year’s theme for World TB Day is “Wanted – Leaders for a TB-free World”. The Government of Canada and ITK will work collaboratively as leaders to address the social inequities that allow TB to persist, and to eliminate TB across Inuit Nunangat by 2030.
“I would like to acknowledge the tremendous leadership and support of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, as well as the provincial and territorial governments. The Government of Canada will put every effort behind meeting our commitment to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat by 2030. It should never have taken us so long to get to this day and we are determined to move forward with a strategy that is both community-owned and community-driven and one that addresses the social determinants of health.”
The Honourable Jane Philpott, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Indigenous Services
“We can and must eliminate tuberculosis from every Inuit community in Canada. Inuit have suffered from this preventable and curable disease, and the colonial legacy of the Government’s indifference to the overall health and well-being of our communities, for too long. I am proud to make this announcement today with a target for elimination of TB among Inuit. Inuit leaders will hold Canada to account to ensure that TB, which is rooted in social inequity, is addressed completely and fully.”
President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami
“I am pleased that the Government of Nunavut, with the support of the Government of Canada, the Department of Community and Government Services and other partners, have taken a major step this year towards the elimination of TB from our territory. The operation of a seven-week mobile TB screening clinic in one community is an example of what can be achieved in a short period of time when we all work together. It is my hope that we continue future collaboration that will benefit the health and well-being of Nunavummiut.”
Honourable Pat Angnakak
Minister of Health, Government of Nunavut
“The Nunatsiavut Government is committed to TB elimination and has taken many actions to address this disease in our communities, including initiating the development of a TB elimination plan "End Tuberculosis in Nunatsiavut - From Here to There. We realize that true elimination will only be achieved with federal and provincial partnerships, as well as through community engagement and support. Elimination of TB requires very specific actions and strategies, including addressing the social determinants of health, such as housing, food security, social supports and heathy child development.”
Government of Nunatsiavut
“The time is now to make eliminating tuberculosis a collective priority. Never before has there been such a shared commitment to eliminate TB in Canada. This is clear by the level of community leadership and investments underway, as well as the collective will demonstrated across all levels of government and with key national Indigenous organizations. The time is now to support the momentum.”
Dr. Theresa Tam
Canada's Chief Public Health Officer
"Some communities in Nunavik have experienced significant outbreaks of tuberculosis in the last years. This announcement is a positive step to support our mobilization efforts against tuberculosis with our community leaders to create an Inuit-led strategy. It is my belief that we can eliminate tuberculosis if our regional action plans take into account Inuit history and perspective."
Executive Director of the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services (NRBHSS)
Tuberculosis is a disease that disproportionately affects Inuit and First Nations communities in comparison to the Canadian-born, non-Indigenous population. TB can be treated and cured by taking antibiotics.
Stigma and discrimination remain crucial barriers to TB care and prevention, as they can cause people to delay seeking testing.
There is a historical trauma of Inuit leaving their communities to go to sanatoriums to be treated in the south, never to return home that remains a barrier to seeking health care.
The Government of Canada is committed to supporting and working with Inuit organizations, communities, provincial and territorial health care systems, scientific experts and other partners to eliminate TB as a major public health threat across Inuit Nunangat. This includes addressing the health and socio-economic factors contributing to the high incidence of TB among Inuit.
Budget 2018 recently announced $27.5 million over five years to support this work in Inuit Nunangat. This includes funding for enhanced prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment of TB and latent TB infection.
This is part of the $509.5 million committed in Budget 2018 to work with Inuit and other partners to strengthen public health programs, to collect data through an Inuit Health Survey, to invest in housing to address the significant overcrowding in Inuit communities, and to support employment and job training.
This is in addition to the $240 million over 10 years announced in Budget 2017 to support housing in Nunavut.
This winter, the Government of Canada supported the Government of Nunavut’s deployment of a mobile screening clinic to a Nunavut community in response to a local TB outbreak. More than 40 health care providers from federal and provincial health systems provided assistance. Since February 2018, the clinic screened over 90% of the population eligible for testing (individuals who were not undergoing TB treatment or had not been previously tested). The results from this mobile clinic will be reviewed and incorporated into future initiatives to reduce TB across Inuit Nunangat.
Office of the Honourable Jane Philpott
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
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