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TB rates soaring in London areas, report reveals

TB rates soaring in London areas, report reveals

Some London boroughs have Tubercolisis (TB) levels that are “significantly higher” than countries such as Rwanda, Iraq and Guatemala, according to a London health committee

Some London boroughs have tubercolisis (TB) levels that are “significantly higher” than countries such as Rwanda, Iraq and Guatemala, according to a London health committee.

There were more than 2,500 new cases of TB in London in 2014, making up approximately 40% of all cases in the UK.

One third of London’s boroughs exceed the World Health Organization “high incidence” threshold of 40 cases per 100,000 population and some boroughs have incidence levels as high as 113 per 100,000 people.

A 2014 report by the British Thoracic Society into developing a gold standard model of care for TB concluded that “Where the number of active cases within a clinical commissioning group (CCG) is low, commissioning TB services on a collaborative basis is more likely to provide high-quality services.”

The new report Tackling TB in London by the London Assembly Health Committee suggested CCGs develop community-based services and consider creating an outreach team.

It read: “Outreach services can also reduce the burden on hospital-based services and GPs. However, outreach is not universally available in all parts of London. We heard that Newham, which has the highest TB rates in the country, does not currently have an outreach team.

“In contrast, neighbouring Hackney has successfully reduced its TB caseload and improved treatment outcomes significantly through enlightened partnership working between its hospital services and outreach teams. Other boroughs have struggled to meet demand for outreach services due to a lack of resources,” it read.

The report also included a survey of 1,006 Londoners, which showed that the awareness of TB in the capital was lacking, as over half of respondents (56%) thought TB was transmitted through spitting and 17% of survey respondents thought that it can be transmitted through unprotected sex.

Similarly, one in five Londoners (18%) said that they don’t know what the symptoms of TB are, and only 30% of Londoners said that they would be happy to spend time with someone who has TB, showing the stigma surrounding the disease.

People with a weakened immune system, eg those with HIV or diabetes, are at high-risk of TB, as well as those with chronic ill health (due to smoking, poor nutrition, stress, and drug or alcohol abuse), and homeless people. The report said: “Overcrowded and poorly ventilated living conditions make it easier for TB to spread in the air.”


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