Nunavut wraps up its 1st community-wide tuberculosis screening clinic

Nunavut's first community-wide mobile tuberculosis clinic wrapped up in Qikiqtarjuaq on Friday, according to the territory's Department of Health.

'It's going to take all of us to address TB and to eradicate it,' said Health Minister Pat Angnakak

The hamlet of Qikiqtarjuaq completed its community-wide tuberculosis clinic on March 23, 2018. It's the first community in Nunavut to have completed a community-wide mobile screening clinic. (Nick Murray/CBC)

Nunavut's first community-wide mobile tuberculosis clinic wrapped up in Qikiqtarjuaq on Friday, according to the territory's Department of Health. 

The mobile clinic ran for seven weeks and its initial aim was to screen every person in the community of 600 for the disease.

It screened more than 90 per cent of the eligible residents in Qikiqtarjuaq starting on Feb. 5, said the department in a news release Friday.

Qikiqtarjuaq, a hamlet on the eastern coast of Baffin Island, currently has the highest rate of tuberculosis in the territory, with an estimated 10 per cent of the population infected.

Dr. Kim Barker, Nunavut's chief medical officer of health, has said 17 of the territory's 25 communities have cases of tuberculosis.

"We need time to look at some of those results [from Qikiqtarjuaq]. How have we done? Was it effective? What do we need to change for the next?" Minister of Health Pat Angnakak told CBC News on Friday.

Angnakak said health professionals from across Canada have helped to make the clinic a success.

She said there has not been a decision yet on which communities will be screened next.

2030 goal realistic?

The completion of the clinic in Qikiqtarjuaq comes alongside a promise made on Friday by the federal government and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit communities by 2030, and to cut the number of active TB cases in half by 2025.

The 2018 federal budget has pledged to spend $109 million over 10 years to battle the bacterial disease in Inuit communities. The government said it's already spending money to deal with an outbreak in Nunavut, including buying rapid diagnostic technology and antibiotics.

Angnakak said it's hard to say how the details from the recent announcement translates for the territory, but she stressed the importance of working together with all levels of governments and Indigenous organizations.

"It's going to take all of us to address TB and to eradicate it," she said.

Health Minister Pat Angnakak said it's going to take money and resources to make the federal vow to eliminate TB by 2030 a reality. (CBC)

When asked if the goal is realistic, Angnakak responded, "I can only speak for Nunavut." 

She added that Nunavut needs funding and resources to make the goal a reality.

"It's going to take money, it's going to dedication and it's going to take partnerships," Angnakak said.

"I've grown up with TB around me, and so this is nothing new to me. We're all looking forward to that day when nobody has to worry about [it]." 

With files from Pauline Pemik