Tuberculosis screening started in Whale Cove on Monday, the second Nunavut community to undergo such a thorough assessment.
Fifteen staff – contracted through the Department of Health – have been sent into the community to identify active and latent cases of TB and to further educate Whale Cove’s 400 residents about the infectious lung disease.
John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, asked about the feasibility of the federal government’s goal to eliminate TB in Inuit communities by 2030.
“It seems to me that we would need to speed things up a bit or increase our presence on the ground across Nunavut in terms of the longer term plans for screening clinics in other communities,” Main said, noting the GN has stated that TB has been identified in 17 of Nunavut’s 25 communities.
Health Minister George Hickes replied that the screening process will be fine tuned as it carries on.
“We’re going to learn more and we’re going to find efficiencies,” he said. “We’re going to discover ways to improve and maybe look at piggybacking with our partners on making an even more aggressive foray into different communities for this disease that shouldn’t exist in today’s world.”
The first TB screening program in Qikiqtarjuaq, which ran from February through March, involved approximately 90 per cent of the community’s 600 residents. Prior to the clinic, an estimated 10 per cent of people in Qikiqtarjuaq were thought to carry the disease.