The COVID-19 & IBD Task Force: Lessons from the pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic forever changed the way the world understands and reacts to a global health crisis. People affected by Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis had many questions and were seeking support. Our community of experts quickly rose to this challenge, coming together to provide guidance and information to those living with inflammatory bowel diease (IBD), with the formation of the COVID-19 & IBD Task Force in March of 2020.

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The task force, led by Dr. Eric Benchimol and Dr. Gil Kaplan was comprised of infectious diseases and IBD experts, patient representatives and community leaders, and provided public health guidance through the lens of immunocompromised and vulnerable populations. They compiled evidence-based guidelines and advice for patients and caregivers, and released recommendations adapted for an international registry of worldwide cases of COVID-19 in people with IBD. The recommendations included guidance such as risk stratification, management of immunosuppressant medications, physical distancing, and mental health. A knowledge translation initiative was also launched to provide critical information and education for the IBD community through weekly webinars and other online resources. Visits to the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada website increased dramatically during the height of the pandemic, revealing the critical role our organization plays as a trusted resource for our community.

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In November 2021, the Task Force released a summary report of their learnings and accomplishments, which was published in the Journal of the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. It is a testament to the dedicated care and resilience of our community and shares lessons for the future of IBD care delivery. Crohn’s and Colitis Canada thanks the COVID-19 & IBD Task Force and the many people behind developing critical research, programs, and the report. The results of this work were tremendous in helping people in Canada and around the world.

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Learn how the GEM Project continues to play an important role in learning the causes of IBD >

  • Canada has among the highest incidence rates of Crohn's and colitis in the world.
  • 1 in 140 Canadians lives with Crohn’s or colitis.
  • Families new to Canada are developing these diseases for the first time.
  • Incidence of Crohn’s in Canadian kids under 10 has doubled since 1995.
  • People are most commonly diagnosed before age 30.

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