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New strategy launched to tackle tuberculosis

Health chiefs in Wolverhampton will help shape a new strategy to tackle tuberculosis.

Public Health England on Monday (24 March, 2014) marked World TB Day by launching the National TB Strategy aimed at bringing together best practice in clinical care, social support and public health.

England now has the second highest TB rate in Western Europe, and Public Health England wants to see both a sustained annual decrease in cases of TB and a reduction in health inequalities associated with the disease.

The strategy is now out for consultation and Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "I welcome the development of the National TB Strategy which is particularly relevant for areas with high rates of tuberculosis, such as Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Birmingham.

"The strategy highlights a number of different ways in which authorities could monitor, tackle and prevent cases of TB. We will consider the consultation document closely and will respond to it in full in due course."

In 2012, there were 8,130 cases of TB reported in England. A total of 12 cases were diagnosed in Wolverhampton in the last 3 months of 2013, down from 18 in the same period in 2012.

The strategy identifies a number of priority areas, including improving early diagnosis, treatment and care services, vaccinations and tackling drug resistance.

Dr Paul Cosford, PHE's director of health protection and medical director, said: "We need to take action. TB should be consigned to the past and yet it is occurring in England at higher rates than most of Western Europe.

"We must win the fight against TB - it is a very serious infection which is fatal in one in 20 cases. The treatment process is long and we want to stop people suffering from a disease which can be controlled with the right public health interventions.

"Early detection and treatment is key to stopping the spread of TB and we will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the NHS, local government and the voluntary and community sector to take action to combat this public health problem."

Tuberculosis is a disease caused by a germ and usually affects the lungs, but can affect other parts of the body. Symptoms that could be a sign of TB include fever and night sweats, persistent cough, weight loss, and blood in the sputum (phlegm or spit) at any time.

  • released: Wednesday 26 March, 2014