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This article was published 11/12/2018 (1010 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A new study is providing a starting point for researchers aiming to lower rates of tuberculosis in the province, particularly among First Nations people.
"(It gave) us a sense of how many people in Manitoba are being treated (for tuberculosis), and who those people are — their characteristics and how they use the health-care system," the report’s lead author, Lisa Lix, said.
The study was conducted by a team at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy (MCHP) at the U of M’s Max Rady College of Medicine. Researchers linked the province’s tuberculosis registry (which has information about all active cases) to the MCHP’s population research data repository (which carries anonymous, comprehensive data on Manitobans ranging from health care to education).
While the provincial tuberculosis registry tracks active cases, it does not consider inactive infections — which do not cause symptoms, but still carry bacteria that can become active again, Lix said.
To get around this gap in data, researchers tracked drugs prescribed to treat the disease, which allowed them to learn more about what kind of care patients receive in Manitoba and where challenges still exist, she said.
Manitoba has the highest incidence rate of active tuberculosis — a life-threatening disease that can spread from the lungs to other parts of the body — of any province in Canada. Indigenous Peoples are also disproportionately impacted by tuberculosis in Manitoba, a 2017 report from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority found.
One of the most important pieces of the study was creating partnerships with First Nations leaders, Lix said, because it provided much-needed context to their findings.
"It’s a disease of poverty," said Kathi Avery Kinew, a former research manager at the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba who consulted on the study.
"And in the case of First Nations, it’s imposed poverty from the Indian Act, and what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called cultural genocide by policies, and legislation, and government... It’s something that has to end."
Kinew said First Nations consultants on the research project were able to bring issues to the table — like the inadequate, overcrowded housing and lack of clean drinking water in many First Nations communities that contribute to the spread of tuberculosis — that have been underrepresented in past research on the topic.
"It’s really important to look at how it impacts First Nations in particular," Kinew said. "If you don’t have that voice at the table, looking at the numbers, then they don’t always think of the same things."
Lix said the study is the first step in addressing high rates of tuberculosis among marginalized people across the province.
"Tuberculosis in Manitoba, as in all other provinces and worldwide, is a disease that can have a substantial impact on people who are in vulnerable situations," Lix said. "It may sound dry... but having good information is important for making decisions about how to act."