Canada’s Indifference To Tuberculosis Has Put Inuit At Great Risk

“White plague.”

“Consumption.”

“Captain of all men of death.”

And the list goes on. These terms struck terror in the hearts of people in the past, and were used for tuberculosis (TB), an ancient disease that has killed millions of humans. Sadly, even in 2018, TB remains a top killer disease. In fact, despite being a curable bacterial infection, TB is the No. 1 ranked infectious killer of humanity. TB affects over 10 million people every year, and kills over 1.7 million people.

Why does TB continue to reign as the captain of killer diseases? The answer is simple — neglect. For decades, TB has been at the bottom of the list of priority for our leaders, and the disease has therefore continued to rise in the ranking of killer diseases, overtaking other killers such as HIV and malaria.

TB in Canada is a striking example of what neglect can do. While TB incidence has steadily fallen across much of Canada, the incidence rate in Canada’s Indigenous and newcomer communities has remained ridiculously high, with Inuit people in Canada facing a burden that is nearly 300 times higher than in non-Indigenous, non-newcomer communities.

This year, at long last, there is hope that the tide can turn, within Canada and globally.

In fact, Inuit teens have recently died of TB, prompting Andre Picard, a respected Canadian health journalist to comment that “these deaths are, in many ways, a perpetuation of Canada’s shameful history of neglect of Indigenous peoples.”

This year, at long last, there is hope that the tide can turn, within Canada and globally. In March this year, ahead of World TB Day, Minister of Indigenous Services Dr. Jane Philpott and Mr. Natan Obed, the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), announced their commitment to eliminating TB across Inuit Nunangat by 2030, and reduce active TB by at least 50 per cent by 2025. This commitment, although long overdue, is extraordinarily important, and signals Canada’s intent to address a major killer in our own country.

Beyond addressing TB in the Indigenous communities, can Canada play a bigger role on the global stage?

The answer is a resounding yes! On Sept. 26, 2018, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly will host the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on TB. It is critical that heads of state attend this important meeting and show their commitment to meeting the Sustainable Development Goal …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel

      

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