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Rise in TB cases has been a painful lesson

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In healthcare nothing stands still or stays the same.

And if you look in the opposite direction for too long something will happen behind you. An example of this is tuberculosis. Once nearly eradicated, it has crept back into our lives, slowly and insidiously over the last 15 years.

The UK currently has the second highest rate of TB among Western European countries and, if the current trend goes unhalted, England will have more TB cases than the whole of the United States within two years.

Last week the government announced a new strategy to tackle the rise in the number of TB cases. The £11.5m investment announced by Public Health England and NHS England will deliver a 10-point action plan, the Collaborative Tuberculosis Strategy for England 2015-20.

This will include improving access, treatment, diagnostic and care services. And it will focus on tackling the disease in difficult-to-reach groups and improving screening and treatment for new migrants.

This is welcome news indeed, but in many ways overdue. The increasing incidence in hot-spots like London, Leicester, Birmingham, Luton, Manchester and Coventry has been clear for some years. Let’s hope that this new funding and strategy will now tackle this as a national issue, rather than the job being left to localities, and we will work towards eradicating this disease.


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