TB Rates in Parts of London ‘Worse Than Iraq, Eritrea and Rwanda’

Guardian, October 27, 2015

Boris Johnson is being urged to “get a grip” on London’s tuberculosis problem after a report revealed that parts of the capital have higher rates of the disease than Rwanda, Eritrea and Iraq.

There were more than 2,500 new cases of TB in London last year–about 40% of the UK’s total–according to a report issued by the London assembly and presented to Johnson, the mayor.

The study found a third of London boroughs exceed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) “high incidence” threshold with more than 40 cases per 100,000 people.

And some borough wards are recording markedly more–areas of Hounslow, Brent, Harrow, Newham and Ealing have rates of more than 150 per 100,000 people.

WHO figures from 2013 show Iraq had 45 per 100,000 while Rwanda had 69 and Eritrea 92. Taken as a whole, the UK had 13 cases per 100,000.

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Prisoners, refugees, migrants, people with substance abuse issues and homeless people were found to be most at risk of the disease.

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The figures showed the London borough of Newham had the highest TB rates in the country, with 107 cases per 100,000 people.

Globally 9 million people fell ill with TB and 1.5 million died from the disease in 2013, according to WHO figures. Aside from HIV/Aids, it is the greatest single infectious agent killer worldwide.

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