Public Health England and NHS England have announced an £11.5m investment as part of a joint initiative to decrease tuberculosis cases and ultimately eliminate the disease in England.
The 10-point action plan will include improving access and early diagnosis and better treatment, diagnostic and care services.
It will also be focused on tackling TB in under-served groups and improved screening and treatment of new migrants for latent TB infection to bring about a year-on-year reduction in TB cases.
The return of the disease, once thought largely conquered, has become an increasingly urgent problem for public health officials.
In 2013, there were 7,290 TB cases reported in England, an incidence of 13.5 cases per 100,000 of the population. Those most at risk tend be among migrant populations and vulnerable groups, particularly the homeless.
The UK currently has the second highest rate of TB among Western European countries and, if current trends continue, England will have more TB cases than the whole of the US within two years.
“There is still unacceptable variation in the quality of clinical and public health measures across England”
Drug resistant TB is also an increasing problem, with cases of multi-drug resistant TB increasing from 28 cases reported in 2000 to 68 in 2013.
PHE highlighted that TB was concentrated in large urban centres, with “hot spots” concentrated in London, Leicester, Birmingham, Luton, Manchester and Coventry.
The strategy was developed by PHE and NHS England following a three-month consultation, which included responses from over 100 different stakeholders.
Other key partners actively involved in developing the strategy include the British Thoracic Society, TB Alert, and the Association of Directors of Public Health.
Public Health minister Jane Ellison said the strategy would target those most vulnerable to TB by improving access to screening, diagnostic and treatment services.
She also highlighted innovative outreach programmes such as the “Find & Treat” mobile health units.
“Last year I saw the first of these fantastic units at work and am delighted that the team launched their second mobile health unit earlier today,” she said.
Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at PHE, added: “While many local areas in England have taken major steps to tackle TB, there is still unacceptable variation in the quality of clinical and public health measures across England.
“Combatting TB is a national priority for PHE and today’s announcement will mark the start of our five-year plan to make a real difference,” he said.
The Collaborative Tuberculosis Strategy for England 2015-20 will be published on the PHE website at 9am today.