Federal government aims to eliminate tuberculosis in Canada’s North by 2030
The government is promising to reduce active tuberculosis in the North by half within the next seven years, ahead of a broader goal to eliminate the disease by 2030.
The eradication plan is to be led by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, which represents the 65,000 Inuit living in Canada, and will focus firstly on preventing deaths related to tuberculosis among children.
ITK President Natan Obed said Friday the prevalence of tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat, which is the organization’s preferred term for traditional Inuit territory, is a legacy of the government’s historic indifference to Inuit health and well-being.
“Inuit leaders will hold Canada to account to ensure that tuberculosis, which is rooted in social inequity, is addressed completely and fully,” Obed said.
Tuberculosis is a preventable and curable bacterial infection that can be fatal if left untreated.
Government figures show that the incidence of tuberculosis among all Canadians in 2016 was 4.8 cases per 100,000 people, while for Inuit living anywhere Canada it was slightly more than 170 cases per 100,000 people.
For Inuit living in the North, the incidence of tuberculosis is 300 times higher than among Canadian-born, non-Indigenous people, the government says.
Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott described that disparity as outrageous, but also “eminently solvable,” given available medical technology.