England made progress against tuberculosis, but more needs done, report says

National Health Service efforts to tackle tuberculosis in England are improving, but worryingly nearly 18 percent TB hot spot areas, and 60 percent of all areas, still don't have a strategy in place to tackle the disease, according to a new report released Dec. 3.

The study also reveals that 39 percent Primary Care Trusts in England have no current plan to deal with a TB outbreak.

The report, by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Global TB, the British Thoracic Society, TB Alert and the Royal College of Nursing is launched as the provisional number of TB cases in England has reached 7,998 cases in 2008 — an increase of 2 percent from the 7,837 cases in 2007.

Separate data, released at the British Thoracic Society Winter Meeting, also shows that Manchester has shown a threefold increase in TB cases since 1996. Other cities and areas with higher rates of TB include London, Leeds, Leicester and West Midlands.

A survey conducted in August and September among 112 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England reveals some positive progress in the delivery of NHS TB services compared with a similar survey in 2007:

60 percent of PCTs reported increased funding to tackle TB over the past three years

74 percent have run awareness-raising activities of TB in their local area

70 percent have a system in place for screening TB in new patients to their area

The survey also shows, however, some worrying deficiencies in local NHS planning and delivery of TB services. Sixty percent have no current strategy to tackle TB and only 57 percent carry out routine, active screening for high-risk populations.

The report recommends that PCTs, especially those with high rates of TB, must have a strategy in place in tackle the disease.

“Most of the general public believe that TB is a disease of the history books — but it has re-emerged as a real public health problem in the last few decades. We're seeing a worrying rise in TB cases in many of our big cities across the country,” said Dr. Marc Lipman, consultant respiratory physician and chairman of the British Thoracic Society's TB Group.