Thursday, 22 August 2013

Vibrant and diverse London has been declared Europe’s capital of tuberculosis, with over 3,500 cases of the disease recorded last year.

Public Health England’s annual TB in the UK report revealed the capital’s rate was a ‘worryingly high’ 42 cases for every 100,000 people – the highest of any western European capital.

There were 3,426 cases reported in London in 2012, with three-quarters of them involving people from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Revealingly, the two areas with far and away the highest rates of TB in London are Brent and Newham, the two most ethnically cleansed (or polluted, depending on your opinion) boroughs in the city.

Brent, which is 82% non-white, has a TB rate of 100.6 per 100,000, and Newham, which is 83.3% non-white, has a rate of 118.8 per 100,000.

It is estimated that TB costs Europe more than 500 million euros a year, plus a further 5.3 billion euros in productivity losses.

A study published in the European Respiratory Journal this month states the economic burden of TB far outweighs the likely costs of investing in much-needed research to develop more effective medicines and vaccines.

The emergence of strains of that can't be treated with even the most powerful of drugs has turned TB into one of the world's most pressing health problems.

According to the World Health Organization, TB infected 8.7 million people worldwide in 2011 and killed 1.4 million. As many as two million people may have drug-resistant strains by 2015, the Geneva-based health agency says.

Treating even typical TB is a long process. Patients need to take a cocktail of antibiotics for six months and many fail to complete the treatment. That, alongside overuse and misuse of antibiotics, has fuelled the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug resistant (XDR-TB), the report states.



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