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AFN National Chief calls on the Canadian government and the province of Manitoba to Address Tuberculosis

by NationTalk on March 11, 2010988 Views

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Ottawa, March 10 – While visiting the Dene community of Lac Brochet in northern Manitoba this week, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo issued the following statement calling for action to address Tuberculosis in First Nations communities.”Tuberculosis is reaching a high level in many of our communities, such as in Lac Brochet. Figures for 2008, which were recently released by the Public Health Agency of Canada show that, nation-wide, rates of tuberculosis among First Nations are 31 times higher than others born in Canada. Overcrowded housing, poor nutrition, a lack of access to water and poor access to healthcare contribute to the spread of this disease. Many of these same issues caused First Nations to be vulnerable to the H1N1 virus last Spring. If there’s a lesson to be learned from last year’s H1N1 crisis, it is that we cannot return to business as usual. Addressing tuberculosis will require First Nations-led economic solutions, improved housing, expanded access to treatment and improved tracking of cases and underlying causes.”

The National Chief added that he was also touched by the stories of elder Catherine Moise, and her daughter Lizette of Lac Brochet, both survivors of tuberculosis, who spoke earlier today at a Press Conference in Ottawa.

“Catherine’s story is one of sadness and loss. She has lost one daughter to tuberculosis and two of her other children, now grown, have also suffered from the disease. I thank Catherine and Lizette for travelling to Ottawa and courageously sharing their stories. A specific plan to address the social determinants of health and increased resources for implementing comprehensive and effective TB control are both essential. One without the other will continue to fuel the disease.”

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

For further information: Karyn Pugliese, A/Communications Director, Assembly of First Nations, (613) 292-1877 or kpugliese@afn.ca

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