More Poverty and Tuberculosis (TB) in Indigenous People

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Mirtha del Granado, Regional Adviser on TB, WHO, speaking at the 41st Union World Conference on Lung Health, in Berlin, Germany, said TB is more prevalent where there are indigenous people. In fact, del Grando says three things coincide – indigenous people, poverty and tuberculosis.

“Where we have indigenous people, we have more poverty and more TB incidence” – Mirtha del Granado, WHO Regional Adviser on TB.

Mirtha also notes that most of the 63,432 undiagnosed cases of TB in the Americas are in Priority countries that detect less than hald of the true number of TB cases.

It is estimated that there are around 45-50 million people with TB in the Americas. That is approximately 6% of the total population. Most of the people with TB are from 400 different indigenous communities, across 24 countries.

In Latin America, 94% of the indigenous population lives in TB priority countries, such as Guatemala and Peru. More than 40% of the population of these two countries is indigenous.

In Chile, the TB incidence in general population is 25 cases per 100,000, but among indigenous communities across Peru, the TB incidence is of 170 – about 6 times more!

In Brazil, TB incidence in general population is 20 per 100,000 but among indigenous communities it is 32.7

In Panama, TB incidence in general population is 43 per 100,000, but among indigenous communities it is about 126-167.

In Mexico, TB incidence in general population is 27 per 100,000, but among indigenous communities it is about 236 – close to nine times more!

In Canada, TB incidence in general population is 5 per 100,000, but among indigenous communities it is about 24.5 – about five times more!

Some countries are doing a good job of effectively addressing TB in their indigenous population. This is because Brazil implemented a national policy with an integrated approach to their indigenous populations.

The result of the national policy and their sustained effort to address the disease, Brazil’s TB rate fell from 97.2 in 2001, to 32.7, just seven years later, in 2008. This was closer to the TB rate of 20.65 per 100,000 in the general population at that time.

WHO says this improving outcome in Brazil is due to the TB programme combined with a development programme, Citizen News Service reports.