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Jason Kenney's cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program will hurt refugees living with HIV and viral Hepatitis co-infection

TORONTO, May 25, 2012 - On July 1st, the Conservative Harper government will be celebrating Canada Day by slashing the Interim Federal Health Program (IFHP) - a program that provides supplemental health benefits for refugee claimants.

Established in 1957, the federal program provides temporary coverage of medical costs for refugee claimants and their families who have no other means of obtaining necessary health benefits. Draconian cuts to the IFHP will see refugees only have access to heath care if their condition constitutes a public health emergency.

"This represents a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of refugees living with HIV and viral Hepatitis co-infection who also suffer other chronic conditions," said Akim Adé Larcher, Canadian Treatment Action Council's (CTAC) Executive Director. "Although the prescription of anti-retroviral therapies are not affected, defunding access to insulin, for example, for a refugee also living with HIV is unacceptable and will only result in worsening their condition."

Refugees arrive in Canada having fled dire political, and social persecution. They suffer from trauma and lifelong exposure to environments of disease that render them in need of supplementary services -- services that will ultimately be denied through the proposed cuts. Denying access to dental care for a refugee claimant living with HIV and viral Hepatitis co-infection who arrives with a mouth abscess will often result in the need for hospitalization later. The Minister's effort to cut costs represents a disastrous abdication of his responsibility for the care of refugees.

"Jason Kenney is dismissing the urgent medical needs of refugees and asylum-seekers coming to Canada," said Alex McClelland, Chair of the CTAC's Board of Directors. "The prohibitive costs and limited access to public coverage of oral healthcare only creates an additional barrier for many refugees living with HIV and viral Hepatitis co-infection, resulting in dangerous patient outcomes and increased long-term costs in the system."

The Canadian Treatment Action Council calls on Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism to revise the proposed cuts to the IFHP and focus immigration reform towards sound efforts that link refugees to primary and preventive care.

The Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) is a national, non-governmental organization run by and for people living with HIV and viral Hepatitis co-infection. We work to enable access to treatment, care and support by building partnerships with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors.

For additional comment: Akim Adé Larcher, Executive Director, Phone: (416) 268-1622, E-mail: akim@ctac.ca

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Link to Minister Oda's official statement (Dec 8, 2011): http://bit.ly/ufonPA

For more information please contact: Akim Adé Larcher, +1 416-268-1622,  akim@ctac.ca


ABOUT CTAC
The Canadian Treatment Action Council (CTAC) works to secure and ensure access to therapies, treatments and care for people living with HIV/AIDS, including those who are co-infected, by working with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. For more information on CTAC's mandate, mission and work please visit www.ctac.ca .


"Reproduced with permission - CTAC Canadian Treatment Action Council /Conseil canadien de surveillance et d'accès aux traitement"

CTAC
www.ctac.ca


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