Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health announced it will spend $500,000 over the next five years to combat the province’s high rates of tuberculosis.

Its goal is to reduce the number of TB cases in the province by 25 per cent. Health Minister Dustin Duncan made the announcement at a tuberculosis symposium in Saskatoon this morning.

 

'Part of the strategy is to see an enhancement of the northern medical nursing services that go up into northern Saskatchewan' —Health Minister Dustin Duncan

Currently the province has one of the highest TB rates in the country. In 2011, Saskatchewan had an overall new case rate of 7.5 people per 100,000, compared to the national average of 4.7.

In Saskatchewan, the highest rates of TB are found in northern First Nations communities. With 54 per cent of the province's cases found in only 3.6 cent of the population, that of which is Aboriginal People, living both on and off reserves.

Minister Duncan said this is because there is less access to health care in the province’s north. Changing this is the focus of the government’s new strategy.

"Part of the strategy is to see an enhancement of the northern medical nursing services that go up into northern Saskatchewan," he said.

The funding announced today will be used for more nursing and outreach support in northern communities. It will also be allocated to the provincial TB program to help strengthen the surveillance of TB cases here in order to have earlier detection and treatment.

"We may see an increase in tuberculosis," Duncan said. "But I think that will be because of the enhanced surveillance. We'll just seem [and] know of more cases, be able to earlier detect cases in Saskatchewan."

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Health hopes the new plan to combat TB will cut the province’s rates in half by 2022.