Nunatsiaq Online (04.23.13)
Speakers at a 3.5 day conference from April 15 to April 18 advised 30 nurses from 13 Nunavut communities to start treating TB and tobacco use together. According to Taha Tabish, who helped organize the conference, the Government of Nunavut’s Health Department organized the conference to provide training for the nurses so they could bring clinical best practices to the communities where they work. Tabish noted that for the first time the leadership in lung health brought together TB experts and people working in tobacco reduction. The goal was to train nurses to look for TB symptoms and signs of tobacco use when examining TB patients or when giving out medication. The nurses learned about different interviewing techniques to help them determine whether TB patients are smoking.
The “Inuit-Specific Tuberculosis Strategy,” which Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami released recently to coincide with World TB Day, recommended making sure that more Inuit are knowledgeable of the links between smoking and TB. The smoking rates in Nunavut are more than double the national average, with more than 50 percent of Nunavummiut older than age 12 years and 80 percent of pregnant women in the Baffin region smoking daily. Also, the TB rates are high. In 2011, the TB rate for Inuit was nearly 254 times the rate for Canadian-born non-aboriginals and 38 times the rate for Canada overall.