Joint Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Chief Medical Officer of Public Health of Indigenous Services Canada on World Tuberculosis Day 2024

Joint Statement from the Chief Public Health Officer of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the Chief Medical Officer of Public Health of Indigenous Services Canada on World Tuberculosis Day 2024


Statement


March 24, 2024 | Ottawa, ON | Public Health Agency of Canada

Sunday, March 24 marks World Tuberculosis (TB) Day. This is a day to raise awareness about the health, social, and economic impacts of this preventable and curable infectious disease. This year’s theme “Yes! We can end TB” continues last year’s message of hope and encouragement and focuses on collaborating to turn commitments into tangible actions to end TB.

This past September, Canada, along with global leaders, reaffirmed its commitments to eliminating TB around the world at the second-ever United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on TB. This historic moment signalled the need to refocus efforts both globally and domestically to achieve the ambitious TB elimination targets, with an emphasis on a people-centred approach.

Although Canada is a low TB incidence country, Indigenous Peoples (with the highest incidence among Inuit) as well as people born outside of Canada, are disproportionately represented among those with active TB. In 2022, more than 1,900 people in Canada were diagnosed with active TB disease and many more people, including loved ones and communities, were affected. We encourage everyone to listen to the stories of TB survivors and their communities to understand the physical and emotional toll of TB, historically and today. Individuals affected by TB can experience isolation, stigma and long-term physical consequences.

We must also recognize that the fight against TB transcends the confines of healthcare. It is intricately linked to our colonial history and the socioeconomic inequities that persist. Canada is fully committed to addressing these disparities and the factors that contribute to the disease’s spread, such as overcrowded housing, food insecurity, poverty, stigma and discrimination.

While there is much inequity and trauma associated with TB, there is also hope. Initiatives led by Indigenous Peoples and communities affected by TB serve as powerful examples of effective people-centred and culturally safe approaches. They also represent the way forward in TB elimination.

Much can be learned from the Inuit-led development and implementation of TB Elimination Action Plans in Inuit Nunangat, where each plan is tailored to the unique regional context. Community-based First Nations TB program workers in Northern Saskatchewan are advocating for and delivering holistic, person-centered, culturally safe TB care. Additionally, strong collaboration, such as that demonstrated by the Hamlet of Pangnirtung, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada during the recent community-wide TB screening in Pangnirtung, show that stigma and mistrust can be overcome.

These are only three examples of the many stories happening across Canada. From coast to coast to coast, nurses, physicians, community workers, laboratorians, social service professionals and others are working tirelessly to provide self-determined, equitable and high quality TB care for every Indigenous person affected by TB.

The Government of Canada is committed to working together with partners and stakeholders to identify a roadmap towards pan-Canadian TB elimination. This will only be possible by working collaboratively across sectors and being grounded in community driven, sustainable solutions that provide equitable access to culturally safe health services. We also need to address social determinants of health, uphold human rights, address anti-Indigenous racism, promote gender equality, implement recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and respect self-determination.

We are committed to getting back on track towards TB elimination after the COVID-19 pandemic. With many new solutions and tools on the horizon, including renewed global and domestic efforts, TB elimination is within our reach.

Dr. Theresa Tam

Chief Public Health Officer

Public Health Agency of Canada

Dr. Tom Wong

Chief Medial Officer of Public Health

Indigenous Services Canada

Contacts

Media Relations

Public Health Agency of Canada

613-957-2983
media@hc-sc.gc.ca

Media Relations

Indigenous Services Canada

819-953-1160
media@sac-isc.gc.ca



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