IQALUIT, NU, March 22, 2012 /CNW/ - The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, today announced two new research studies to help address tuberculosis (TB) in Nunavut. The Minister was joined by the Honourable Keith Peterson, Minister of Health and Social Services, Government of Nunavut; Ms. Cathy Towtongie, President of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI); and Dr. Gonzalo G. Alvarez, the lead researcher from the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) and the University of Ottawa.

"Today's announcement is about building on the work already started to address a problem that has been with us too long," said Minister Aglukkaq. "We have an extraordinary community of passionate people across Nunavut working in collaboration with us on these projects. The knowledge developed will directly translate into improved health for Nunavummiut."

The two research studies funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) will build on the results of a pilot project previously funded by the Government of Canada, TAIMA TB. The two studies will:

·         Expand tuberculosis awareness campaign to two communities in Nunavut.

·         Evaluate new state-of-the-art TB diagnosis equipment recently purchased by the Government of Nunavut and installed at the Qikiqtani General Hospital Laboratory. The study will also be conducted in Montreal at the Montreal Chest Institute.

"We are pleased for this support," said Minister Peterson. "These projects will study the use of new technology to detect TB sooner in Nunavut as well as increase awareness about TB in our communities."

Although progress has been made, TB remains a severe global public health threat. According to the World Health Organization, there were an estimated 8.8 million new cases and 1.4 million TB related deaths worldwide in 2010. In Canada, tuberculosis is most prevalent among foreign-born and Aboriginal populations. Due to a number of factors, many TB cases are detected late which can lead to further spread.

"This has truly been a community-based and participatory project made successful by the commitment of the research team and the community itself. NTI looks forward to building on the momentum of TAIMA TB in collaboration with Dr. Alvarez, the Government of Nunavut and the Government of Canada," said Ms. Towtongie.

Dr. Alvarez thanked the community of Iqaluit for their participation and support: "The community has accomplished incredible work with the TAIMA TB research project. With this additional funding from CIHR, we will continue our work so Nunavummiut are aware of the signs and symptoms of TB and are diagnosed quickly."

Dr. Alvarez is an associate scientist at OHRI, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ottawa and a staff respirologist at The Ottawa Hospital.

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada's health research investment agency. CIHR's mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened Canadian health care system. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.

 

Fact Sheet

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research is funding two new research studies to help address tuberculosis (TB) in Nunavut.

The two studies build on results from a previously funded pilot project from the Public Health Agency of Canada, TAIMA TB (Stop TB in Inuktitut). TAIMA TB was a partnership initiative with the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik (NTI), the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa. Other partners include Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), New Brunswick Lung Association and the National Aboriginal Health Organization. The TAIMA TB pilot project was announced by Minister Aglukkaq in January 2011: www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/media/nr-rp/2011/2011_0113-eng.php

Knowledge Translation Project on Tuberculosis in Nunavut
Principal investigator: Dr. Gonzalo G. Alvarez
Research institution: Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI)
Colleagues on research project: Kristine Hutchison, Natan Obed, Connie Siedule, Heather Colquhoun, Katherine A. Moreau
Funding: $100,000 over 1 year from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Project details: The CIHR-funded knowledge translation project will expand and increase awareness of TB through a multifaceted awareness campaign focusing on two communities in Nunavut other than Iqaluit that have increased rates of TB. Partners include the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI). The research team will engage with local public health teams to focus TB awareness activities with high school students using the tools developed under the TAIMA TB project to further empower community members with TB knowledge in both Inuktitut and English.

Improving tuberculosis diagnosis in vulnerable populations: impact and cost-effectiveness of a novel, rapid molecular assay
Principal investigators: Dr. Madhukar Pai and Dr. Gonzalo G. Alvarez
Research institution: The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI)
Colleagues on research project: Marcel Behr, Richard Menzies and Kevin Schwartzman
Funding: $350,000 over 3 years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
Project details: Recently, the World Health Organization announced its endorsement of a novel molecular test for TB - the Xpert MTB/RIF test, a cartridge-based, completely automated test, which can accurately detect TB and drug resistance in a couple of hours. The research team will conduct the first evaluation of Xpert MTB/RIF in Canada. The research team will evaluate accuracy, reduction in diagnostic and treatment delays, and cost-effectiveness of this novel molecular test for TB. The study is a joint effort between University of Ottawa researcher Dr. Alvarez and McGill University researcher Dr. Pai. The study will be conducted in both Montreal, Quebec, at the Montreal Chest Institute and Iqaluit, Nunavut at the Qikiqtani General Hospital. In Iqaluit, the equipment has now been installed at the Qikiqtani General Hospital and purchased by the Government of Nunavut. The study will generate data that will enable organizations such as the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada and provincial and territorial governments to develop evidence-based Canadian guidelines on this novel TB test. 

For further information:

Cailin Rodgers, Office of the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, 613-957-0200
David Coulombe, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 613-941-4563