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Inuit Mark World Tuberculosis Day with Abysmal Statistics

Media Release

March 24, 2010 – Ottawa, Ontario – Inuit are marking World Tuberculosis Day with statistics that are many times higher than the national average in Canada. In some communities the rates are 170 times higher. Inuit are working with limited resources to combat this disease.“Despite the announcement from Health Canada in January for the Taima TB program in Nunavut, it is simply not acceptable that Inuit across the Arctic continue to suffer with this disease in 2011,” stated National Inuit Leader Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami. “Tuberculosis is a preventable disease. It’s one with a very unfortunate history in our communities as we can recall stories of relatives being taken away to TB sanatoriums in some cases never to return. How can we, as Canadians in good conscience, allow this to continue? With all due respect I must state this strongly so it will be understood: if these TB rates existed in a southern Canadian community governments would not tolerate this.”

Inuit are not standing idly by on this issue. We are pressing governments to help us combat the disease in our communities. This month the Inuit Public Health Task Group met to discuss the issue across our four regions. The meeting was attended by representatives from each of the land claims organizations, the Chief Medical Health Officers from each region, the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, the Office of Inuit Health within Health Canada, and three Aboriginal TB experts.

The Task Group is developing an Inuit-specific TB action plan. That plan is focused on both the medical aspects of the disease, which includes health service delivery, equipment and human capacity in the health field. It is focused on the social determinants of health, including food security, housing and mental wellness. Having basic diagnostic capacity in each community is one of the goals of the action plan. This is important so that services are delivered to Inuit as opposed to Inuit being separated from their families and communities as they are sent, often at great cost, to the services.

“In the event of a federal election, we will be asking the political parties specific questions on issues relevant to Inuit and the Arctic. This is one example of how life for Inuit in the 53 Arctic communities is drastically different than for our fellow Canadians in other parts of Canada. We would like to feel that we too live in a G-8 nation,” concluded Mary Simon.


Stephen Hendrie, Director of Communications
Tel: 613.277.3178, [email protected]