April 27, 2021
Jennifer Splaine, area manager for Fort McMurray Public Health, shows off one of four prevention-focused tuberculosis resources that are now available with Alberta Health Services. Public health developed them in partnership with AHS TB Services and AHS Communications and Community Engagement, and with in-kind funding and support from the University of Alberta’s Tuberculosis Program Evaluation and Research Unit.
Story by Logan Clow
New resources aimed at the prevention of tuberculosis are making their debut through the Fort McMurray Public Health team for Alberta Health Services (AHS).
The tuberculosis (TB) resources — two posters and two pamphlets — were developed for provincial AHS use by Fort McMurray Public Health, in conjunction with AHS TB Services, AHS Communications and Community Engagement, and with in-kind funding and support from the University of Alberta’s Tuberculosis Program Evaluation and Research Unit (TB PE & RU).
“Through our ongoing outreach work — and offering TB screening, testing and treatment services — our Fort McMurray Public Health team recognized that we needed to enhance our AHS TB resources to more effectively meet the needs of our clients,” says Jennifer Splaine, manager, Fort McMurray Public Health.
“These posters and pamphlets are going to provide clients with the information they need, such as what TB is, the importance of being tested, how the disease can be treated, where they can go to receive care or get more information, as well as dispelling some common TB myths.
“The resources use powerful, informative and engaging illustrations and messaging. We were very mindful of stigmas and misconceptions associated with TB while creating these resources.”
Splaine’s teams introduced the TB materials in clinical and outreach settings earlier this year. Their development began in July 2019 after TB PE & RU staff approached Splaine with an offer to help enhance AHS’ TB resources as well as support Fort McMurray Public Health’s ongoing work in this area. Over the years, both teams have noted increased TB activity in the Wood Buffalo region.
Completing the resources involved consultation and feedback from several healthcare teams and TB subject matter experts until mid 2020. Alberta artist Kelly Mellings, of Pulp Studios Inc. in Edmonton, created the illustrations for the project.
“We hope these resources can effectively contribute to our local, zone and provincial efforts to educate and inform Albertans about tuberculosis, and ultimately reduce its incidence,” says Splaine.
The TB PE & RU, established in 1998, conducts research and provides strategic planning and resource management support specific to the care and prevention of tuberculosis to a number of healthcare organizations and public health teams.
“We’re delighted and more than happy to support Fort McMurray Public Health and AHS in their commitment to reduce TB rates,” says Courtney Heffernan, Manager, TB PE & RU. “We applaud their ongoing efforts, and we hope these resources will provide an array of TB prevention and care information that clients will find helpful.”
TB remains among the world’s deadliest infectious diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10 million people contracted TB in 2019.
Canada ranks among the world’s lowest rates of active TB. According to the federal government, more than 1,700 active cases of TB were reported each year in 2016 and 2017. More than 200 of those cases were reported each year in Alberta.
In 2019, there were around 245 active cases of TB in Alberta, according to AHS’ TB Services.
Individuals who contract TB either have latent (no symptoms and is not transmissible) or active TB (symptomatic and transmissible). Latent TB can become active when an individual’s immune system weakens.
TB is commonly transmitted in conditions of poverty, overcrowding and/or poor ventilation. However, the disease is treatable. The WHO estimates approximately 60 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000-2019.
In Fort McMurray, Splaine says her public health team works with a number of clients who have latent and active TB.
“We hope that clients who are being provided these resources feel comfortable in coming to see us, or contacting us at Fort McMurray Community Health Services if they have questions, or require TB screening, testing or treatment,” she adds.
Sandy Cockburn, manager, AHS TB Services, says these new resources will benefit AHS staff and clients in all zones.
“These new TB resources enhance our healthcare teams’ ability to continue to detect, control and treat TB, as well as to provide safe and efficient TB services and care to clients,” says Cockburn.
“Clients accessing AHS TB services will find these resources quite beneficial and informative, no matter where they’re at in their TB care journey. We’re very excited to launch and begin using these resources, and we hope they can be used for years to come.”
To learn more about TB Services offered in Fort McMurray, call Fort McMurray Community Health Services at 780-791-6247. Additional TB information can be found here.