The health of a people -- their vulnerability to illnesses and diseases -- is often an indicator of something larger. A new report shows that the rate of tuberculosis among Inuit is 185 times greater than for the rest of the country. That's an incredible number and, sadly, it's the product of our unfair social institutions.
The rate of tuberculosis, it turns out, is increased with poor and overcrowded housing, little food to eat, as well as infrequent and insufficient access to health care. These are all conditions Inuit face. First Nations living in the southern provinces of Canada have also been shown to have high rates of tuberculosis -- 31 times higher than the rest of the country, in fact. Due, of course, to similar institutional deficiencies.
The Canadian government, at both the local and federal level, must recognize this phenomenon and learn the proper lesson from it: that economic disparity, poverty, joblessness, marginalization and other social ills take their toll.
In a recent article for The Nation titled "Save the Child," Melissa Harris-Lacewell wrote about obesity in America and Michelle Obama's self-appointed role in reducing the rate of it among children. A seemingly noble and uncontroversial cause, Harris-Lacewell notes the problem with looking at obesity the way Obama has. Obama's approach is to regard obesity as solely a health issue, one emerging from poor diet and lifestyle choices. But this is misleading, Harris-Lacewell argues:
In its current form, Mrs. Obama's initiative is focused on providing nutrition information, improving food choices and encouraging physical exercise... But it does not rigorously engage a policy agenda that embraces children as part of nutritionally and recreationally deficient communities. Since race and poverty are intimately linked to childhood obesity, it is easy to imagine that this effort could soon slip into rhetoric about saving kids from their deep-frying, sedentary parents rather than linking health to the government and corporate choices that affect both children and adults.
The point is that we have to look at health issues in their social and political context. Just as the rate of obesity in America is related to poverty, the alarmingly high rate of tuberculosis among Inuit is linked to their social and economic standing.
Thank you for reading this story…
More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.
rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.
So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.
And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.