Ottawa, Ontario — (March 24, 2023)
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed and Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu issued the following statement today on World Tuberculosis Day 2023:
“Tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks continue to be an unfortunate and unnecessary reality in Inuit Nunangat. TB disproportionately impacts Inuit communities throughout the country. The Government of Canada and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national representational organization for Inuit in Canada, are working together to eliminate TB from Inuit Nunangat through disease treatment and prevention, with a focus on health, food access and supportive services that prevent the spread of TB.
Between 2015 and 2019, the reported incidence rate of active TB disease among Inuit living in Inuit Nunangat was 300 times the rate among Canadian-born, non-Indigenous people. This unacceptable rate of TB across Inuit Nunangat reflects a colonial system that has reinforced health and socioeconomic disparities between Inuit and other Canadians, including overcrowded housing, food insecurity, barriers to health care and poverty.
In 2018, the Government of Canada and ITK committed to work together to eradicate TB from Inuit Nunangat by 2030. The Government of Canada’s initial investment of $27.5 million has been used for action plans that are specific to each of the four regions that make up Inuit Nunangat. The work plans include objectives like TB screening activities, community outreach, training community health workers, Inuit-specific research and examination of the cross-section between TB and COVID-19. The Government of Canada is also constantly exploring novel approaches to support the shared goal of eliminating TB.
Continued investment is necessary to break the cycle of TB across Inuit Nunangat. ITK has determined that consistent and sufficient investment is needed for the upcoming years if we hope to end TB in Inuit communities. Importantly, it is critical that we continue to build housing, enhance food security and address the other conditions that support healthy people and communities. These are the measures we need to take if we want to ensure Inuit can live free of TB.
The Government of Canada will continue to work with Inuit partners and healthcare professionals to support Inuit-led, community-based TB activities and programs that prioritize cultural safety, traditional knowledge and practices, and self-determination.
On World Tuberculosis Day, we pledge to continue our efforts toward achieving health equity in public health for Inuit, to secure the necessary financial resources to fulfill our commitment to eliminate TB in Inuit Nunangat by 2030, and to sustain elimination thereafter.”