Fund programs to control the spread of TB in Inuit communities.

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In the 1960s there was a massive campaign to treat active and latent TB among the Inuit that successfully brought the incidence down to 15 % of the population. Then, an outbreak of TB among the Inuit in 2010 brought the incidence to 62 times the Canadian average.

In 2007, Nelson Obed, who is now President of the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) organization and Dr. Gonzalo Alvarez, a leading Respirologist, founded a group of research projects called "Tamia TB".  These projects were responsible for a marked increase in the number of people being tested for TB and resulted in many active and latent cases being identified and treated.


From this work came the Tamia TB "Toolbox", consisting of five components which, when used together, can move toward the elimination of TB among the population:

The toolbox consists of:
1. digital chest X-rays, which, using the internet can easily be read by a radiologist elsewhere in southern Canada,


2. Sputum Induction, a test which is able to detect active TB from a saline induced sample of sputum,

3. Gebe Xpert is a modern point of care rapid rest used to detect active TB.  The results are known the next day and treatment can begin almost immediately. The Government of Nunavut wants to start using Gene Xpert across the territory but lacks the funds necessary to do so,


4. 3HP to provide a shorter treatment regime for latent TB infection. The present treatment requires more than nine months to be effective, while 3HP requires taking one pill a week for twelve weeks,

5. IGRA (Interferon-Gamma Release Assay), a single blood test to diagnose latent TB infection. It is a vast improvement over a normal skin test since it does not cause false positives.


This plan, Tamia-TB, provides a straightforward strategy for action by the Federal government.  If the Federal government accepts this strategy and provides the necessary human and financial resources, the Government of Nunavut could then implement Tamia-Tb across the whole territory and TB might be fully eliminated.

On February 2, 2017 there was a meeting among Premier Peter Taptuna of Nunavut, Prime Minister Trudeau, Indian Affairs Minister Bennett, Health Minister Philpott, and Social Development Minister Duclos to address TB and Housing needs among the Inuit of Nunavut.  Since that time, it appears that no real action on either of these issues has been taken by the Federal Government.


Prime Minister Trudeau, in his address to the United Nations, spoke strongly of his intent to repair relations with our Indigenous communities. The immediate implementation of the Tamia-TB plan would be one visible event to prove to the world that he truly means what he says.


 



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