U.K. accused of failing to halt spread of TB in South Asia

The United Kingdom has recently been accused of covering up a failure among the G8 nations to prevent the spread of tuberculosis in South Asia.

In the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, three experts based in Bangladesh recently said that the goal of the United Kingdom in terms of tuberculosis policy is to halt the spread of the disease to the West, not to deal with the living conditions in poor countries that make TB endemic, according to the Guardian.

Bruce Currey, Professor Quazi Quamruzzaman and Professor Mahmuder Rahman, all based at Dhaka Community Hospital in Bangladesh, say that the U.K.’s Department for International Development is ignoring the deaths of over half a million people.

For its part, the Department of International Development has reported that in Southeastern Asia, the process of progress in reversing the spread of TB is on target with Millennium Development Goals. It describes TB mortality in the area as moderate.

"The Crown's term 'moderate mortality' covers up an annual tuberculosis death toll, estimated by WHO, of almost half a million people (460,003), mostly poor, in south Asia," Currey and his colleagues said, according to the Guardian. "It is now 2010, the deadline for the G8 millennial commitment. The latest WHO report (2009) suggests that the G8 target of reducing tuberculosis deaths by 50 percent has resulted in only an 11 percent reduction‚ "neither 'almost met' nor 'on target'.

"The Millennium Development Goals should not be used as a fig leaf for the vertical global program that is under-funded and failing to eradicate, or root out, the scourge of poverty and the risks underpinning preventable tuberculosis."

In response, the Guardian reports, a Department for International Development spokesman replied, "We will continue to help build better medical services in the poorest countries to ensure TB, like other major diseases, is effectively diagnosed and cured."