Nunavut to start Taima TB program April 28
“Our goal here is to stop the spread of TB in Nunavut.”
(Updated and corrected 11:30 a.m., March 24)
About a month from today, World Tuberculosis Day, nurses and Inuit interpreters will start going door-to-door in Iqaluit to administer tuberculosis tests, when the Government of Nunavut launches its Taima TB project on April 28.
That launch, a community event, will include a country feast, introduction of the TAIMA TB project to the community, and the opportunity for community members to share their stories about TB.
The GN will use an $800,000-federal grant from Ottawa to pay for the program.
An ambitious combination of public education, social media outreach and door-to-door screening and treatment, Taima TB aims to raise awareness about the disease through town hall meetings and social media like Facebook.
The program plans to improve screening for tuberculosis, or TB, and improve treatment for people with active cases.
“TB is the disease that… has a profound impact on individuals in our communities,” Leona Aglukkaq, Nunavut’s MP and the federal health minister, said earlier this year when she announced the money for Taima TB. “Our goal here is to stop the spread of TB in Nunavut.”
Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., has urged Inuit to take part in Taima TB and promised NTI’s involvement will ensure the project is culturally appropriate.
The testing will take place only in Iqaluit, which suffered about about half of the 102 TB cases that Nunavut recorded in 2010.
That’s the highest number of cases since 1999. TB is found in Nunavut at a rate that’s 62 times higher than in the rest of the country.
World Tuberculosis Day, which falls on March 24, aims to raise public awareness about TB.
TB is an infectious disease that usually affects the lungs, although all other organs may be involved.
If untreated, the disease can be fatal. Each year, more than nine million people around the world get infected with TB and almost two million TB-related deaths are recorded worldwide.
TB preys on people whose general well-being is already weakened by poor diet, smoking and alcohol abuse. Crowded housing also encourages the spread of the disease.
According to World Health Organization, each person with active TB can infect 10 to 15 people a year on average.
One way to diagnose TB is by performing a skin test to see if a person has developed a hypersensitivity to the TB germ.
The test consists in injecting a purified protein derived from the TB germ into the skin. After more then 48 hours, the skin area will present a bump. If the bump is large, the test is considered to be positive, meaning that a TB infection has occurred.
Most people infected with the tuberculosis bacillus, or germ, don’t become ill. The germ can lie dormant in a person’s lungs for years, even decades.
When the body’s own defences are down, the germ begins to create a little sore, and the bacteria are spread to other people through breathing or coughing.
Without treatment, tuberculosis can eventually kill its host by gradually eating away the lungs or, in rare cases, by spreading to other organs.
Medication can prevent infected people from developing full-blown symptoms of the disease, which include prolonged coughing, weight loss, fever, fatigue and cold sweats.
To stop the further spread of TB in Nunavut, Taima TB will employ “contact tracing” to help health officials track down those who may have come in contact with active carriers.