On December 9, 2018, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance released their 2019 Pre-Budget Report. The Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) also published their Inuit Tuberculosis (TB) Elimination Framework on the same day. Included in both the Pre-Budget Report and Inuit Tuberculosis Elimination Framework is a focus on medical imaging technology and a recommendation for additional equipment to help with the eradication of TB.
In response, the CAR has drafted a positive statement which can be found below. We encourage you to share this within your internal frameworks. This is a direct result of all our advocacy this year, including meetings with parliamentarians (MPs) throughout the summer and during the Day on the Hill.
The Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) is pleased with the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance’s recommendation to invest in medical imaging equipment in northern communities to help eradicate tuberculosis (TB). This is a positive step forward in ensuring improved access to imaging technologies to help with early diagnosis and detection of disease. We attribute this recommendation to discussions with government and a strong evidence-based pre-budget submission involving stakeholders. Coinciding with the Pre-Budget Consultation Report, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) published their Tuberculosis Elimination Framework.
We applaud ITK for their work on the framework. “This is a very well thought out plan, which recognizes the regional difference in access to quality care and the resources that are required to help address the spread of TB in the north,” says Dr. Emil Lee, CAR President.
Tuberculosis is a preventable and curable bacterial infection that can be fatal if left untreated. Government figures show that the incidence of tuberculosis among all Canadians in 2016 was 4.8 cases per 100,000 people, while for Inuit people living anywhere in Canada, it was more than 170 cases per 100,000 people.
Earlier this year, the CAR submitted pre-budget recommendations to the Federal government. These included an investment of $3 million for medical imaging equipment to aid the Indigenous Services Minister, Dr. Jane Philpott, and her plan to reduce active tuberculosis in northern Canada by half within the next seven years. “We were very encouraged to see that the Standing Committee on Finance recognizes the importance of medical imaging in helping to eradicate TB in northern communities and we are optimistic that the finance minister will act on this recommendation in the 2019 budget”, says Lee.
Investing in imaging equipment in northern communities can help address the TB public health crisis. Modernizing imaging equipment, implementing innovative technologies and enhancing access to care in Inuit communities will radically improve the ability to diagnose TD. Treating patients earlier and more effectively will improve health outcomes for Canadians.
Over the course of 2018, we were fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet with the Inuit Service Health Branch at Health Canada as well as ITK on several occasions. The CAR learnt that there’s a genuine interest from these groups to collaborate with radiologists on their proposed solution to reduce the instance of TB in the north.
“We were very pleased to see that a focus on imaging technologies and infrastructure is included in the plan as a top priority in enhancing care”, says Dr. Lee. “The Standing Committee on Finance’s recommendations to improve access to high-quality and emerging diagnostic tools including digital radiology, adequate infrastructure, laboratory services and appropriate health human resources is critical to our success in addressing this public health crisis,” added Lee.
The CAR recognizes that the solution to eradicating TB relies on more than medical imaging technology. The broader solution will involve a shared focus on infrastructure, digital bandwidth, education and human resources. We’ll continue to offer support in a subject matter expert capacity with ITK and Inuit governments to help implement the Inuit TB Elimination Framework and offer expertise in radiology pertaining to patient care, technology and education.