Nunavut sets up mobile tuberculosis clinic in Naujaat as outbreak grows

Nunavut’s Health department is holding a TB screening clinic in Naujaat until May 30. (Havard Gould/CBC News )

3 have died since outbreak began, 21 diagnosed with active TB

Nunavut’s Health department has opened a community-wide mobile testing clinic in Naujaat, in the hopes of testing as many people as possible for tuberculosis.

It’s been almost a year since a TB outbreak was first declared in the community of 1,200 people on May 16, 2023.

Kevin Tegumiar, Naujaat’s mayor, said the hamlet has been asking for such a clinic for several months.

“Without accurate numbers, we’re not really sure where we are. This clinic will help clear things up,” Tegumiar said.

Tegumiar said three Naujaat residents have died since the outbreak began in the community. Nunavut’s Health department confirmed those numbers in a recent interview with CBC.

Since January 2023, 21 people in Naujaat have been diagnosed with active TB.

Another 118 others have been diagnosed with latent TB, according to the department, which is almost double the number reported in November last year.

Hundreds of tests

Health officials have set a goal to test 1,000 people in Naujaat for TB by the end of the clinic, on May 30.

“We hope that every one of them are coming and get screened during the time that we are here,” said Ekua Agyemang, Nunavut’s deputy chief public health officer. “When TB is identified early, the disease is very easy to treat in the community.”

The Health department said they will deploy a team of health-care workers, including a doctor, four nurses, an epidemiologist, a radiology technician and laboratory technician.

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, will also visit Naujaat this week as part of a tour alongside Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. officials and the territory’s health minister. Tam will also visit Pond Inlet and Iqaluit.

“Though TB will be a focus of the entire visit, Dr. Tam will also meet with community groups and organizations to discuss homelessness, health education, mental health, and health research initiatives in Nunavut, among other topics,” a news release from NTI said.

Agyemang said in February, the department visited schools and organized a community event to raise awareness about tuberculosis in Naujaat.

Two other outbreaks

Two other TB outbreaks are still ongoing in Pangnirtung and Pond Inlet.

A screening clinic was held in Pangnirtung last fall, which allowed about 70 per cent of the population to be tested.

“There’s definitely ongoing work that still needs to be done, but at this point in time, they’re at a good place in Pangnirtung,” Agyeman said.

Agyeman said at this point, the department does not intend to hold a clinic in Pond Inlet. She also could not provide specific information about the number of cases in the community.

-Reporting by Matisse Harvey, with files from Salome Avva

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Wastewater study launched in Iqaluit to help better detect TB, Eye on the Arctic

CBC News

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