Plan to wipe out tuberculosis in Inuit communities shifts to prevention

OTTAWA — Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott says a plan aimed at eliminating tuberculosis from Inuit communities shows the federal government is “getting its act together.”

Philpott, together with the leader of Canada’s national Inuit group, revealed Monday how it will follow through on a Liberal pledge to wipe tuberculosis from the Arctic by 2030. Philpott said the framework will help move from fighting outbreaks of the respiratory disease to preventing them from occurring.

“You have to have the will, you have to have the massive investment, but you also have to be very, very organized,” Philpott said.

“It needs to get down to the minutiae of detail: ‘How many more nurses need to be trained? How many more community health workers need to be trained? Where do they need to go?’ “

Monday’s announcement outlines a plan to have regional Inuit organizations come up with concrete answers to some of those questions by the spring.

Inuit communities suffer tuberculosis at rates 300 times higher than those in the south. The Liberals promised to cut those rates in half by 2025 and wipe out the disease five years after that.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapirisiit Kanatami, said that will require shifting from treating outbreaks of the disease to prevention.

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