Gastrointestinal infections in Nunavut and Nunavik: Time to abandon outdated approaches to diagnostic service delivery

The Conference Board of Canada, October 5, 2017 at 02:00 PM EDT
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Recent surveys conducted in Canadian Arctic communities have confirmed the highest self-reported incidence of acute enteric illness among high-income countries. Despite this, this burden receives relatively little attention from community stakeholders and prompts a low rate of health care visits for illness episodes. The perceived trivial nature of acute diarrheal illness and the low frequency of people seeking care are reinforced by the self-limited nature of diarrhea in the majority of cases.

The public health significance of repeated or persistent infections among young children may go under-recognised because, in some settings, long-term developmental impacts of infections occur in children and are not limited to those with diarrheal symptoms. There are potential interactions between enteric infections and the myriad and frequently overlapping factors known to affect growth and development in Arctic communities (e.g. food insecurity, household crowding) that need to be considered.

Complicating matters, most remote Indigenous communities in the Arctic have little or no local access to microbiology testing for infectious diseases. The lack of timely access to diagnostic testing is thought to contribute to the spreading of disease by carriers who have not yet been diagnosed. Furthermore, because of the limited access to testing, both surveillance and prevention strategies can be thwarted.

This presentation will review the current state of knowledge about gastrointestinal infections in Canadian Arctic communities, describe work underway to address knowledge gaps, and discuss practical examples of interventions that can be implemented in the short term to improve care of individuals and better inform community health policy.

Webinar Highlights

In this 60-minute webinar, you will learn:

  • How self-reported gastrointestinal infections appear to be far more common in Canadian Arctic communities than in Southern Canada, based on surveys and the recent identification of widespread human disease from a parasite called Cryptosporidium in the Canadian Arctic regions of Nunavik and Nunavut.
  • How in many low-resource settings, early and/or repeated gastrointestinal infections can have lasting consequences for the growth and development of young children, particularly in areas with food insecurity.
  • How the infeasibility of traditional diagnostic infrastructure in remote communities, and lack of access to diagnostic testing is thought to contribute to high rates of communicable diseases such as gastroenteritis, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted infections, and lower respiratory tract infections.
  • How diagnostic service delivery in the North must evolve from the 20th-Century laboratory model of referring patients or specimens to distant centers, and instead capitalize on advances in near-care diagnostic technologies that can be leveraged for improved individual patient care and evidence-based community health policy.

About Cédric

Cedric YansouniDr Cédric Yansouni is an Infectious Diseases physician and a Medical Microbiologist at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, where he is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Associate Director of the J.D. MacLean Centre for Tropical Diseases. His research is focused on improving diagnostic tools and care for infectious diseases in remote or low resource settings, with current projects ongoing in the Canadian Arctic and Ethiopia. He has served as Consultant Physician in Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Northern Quebec since 2013, is an ArcticNet Network Investigator and Project Leader on enteric infections in Nunavik and Nunavut, and is currently a Temporary Adviser to the World Health Organization (WHO) for the development of technical specifications for cholera rapid diagnostic tests.

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Price: $99.00 (CAD)