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Reduce the spread of TB in vulnerable areas

Kevin Schwartzman Regular screening for tuberculosis in Inuit communities is cost-effective

Dr. Kevin Schwartzman, Senior Scientist in the RESP Program at the Research Institute of the MUHC and Associate Member of the Meakins-Christie Laboratories, is researching how to reduce the spread of TB in vulnerable areas. He recently led a study in Inuit communities with high TB rates, and found that regular community-wide screening for active and latent TB is cost effective, and is recommended as a way to help reduce outbreaks.

TB disproportionally affects vulnerable communities, including Canadian Inuit. In 2017, the TB infection rate in these communities was 40 times higher than in the rest of Canada. The Nunavik Regional Board of Health & Social Services, in partnership with researchers from the RI-MUHC, has led community-wide TB screening initiatives as part of its TB elimination plans, hoping to eradicate TB in the Inuit homelands by 2030.

“Historically, community-wide screening has been implemented after outbreaks.” “The ideal screening program will prevent future outbreaks, but it is impossible to predict exactly when an outbreak will occur. The high cost of care for TB in Canada’s North makes preventive interventions more cost-effective.”

Dr. Kevin Schwartzman

The cost of TB treatment can run upwards of $38,000 or more per patient, and necessitates lengthy antibiotic treatment and hospital isolation. Thus, the community-wide screening suggested by this study is considered highly cost-effective.

Read more about the study here:

Regular screening for tuberculosis in Inuit communities is cost-effective, RI-MUHC News and Events, November 2, 2021

Le dépistage de la tuberculose permettrait d’empêcher la propagation de la maladie, L’actualité. By Melissa Couto Zumer, La Presse Canadienne, November 1, 2021.

Regular TB screening cost-effective way to prevent spread in vulnerable areas: study, CTV News, Health News. By Melissa Couto Zumer, The Canadian Press, November 1, 2021.

Photo credit: Sean Kilpatrick, The Canadian Press