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Tackling TB in London

Date published: 
27 October 2015

Some London boroughs have Tuberculosis (TB) levels as high as 113 per 100,000 people – significantly higher than countries such as Rwanda, Iraq and Guatemala.

The London Assembly Health Committee report ‘Tackling TB in London’ looks into the problems TB poses for the capital and how it can be addressed.

TB is seen as a disease of the past, yet it poses a highly significant public health challenge in the capital. Many Londoners simply don’t know what TB is, how it is transmitted, what the symptoms are or how it is treated.

With our investigation we wanted to find out:

  • What are the main challenges for improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB in London?
  • How do we engage London’s communities to tackle TB?
  • What can be done to raise awareness of TB as a current health issue for Londoners?
  • How can the Mayor of London help?

A new survey commissioned by the London Assembly Health Committee found that:

  • One in five Londoners (18%) said that they don’t know what the symptoms of TB are, when presented with a list.
  • Over half of respondents (56%) thought TB was transmitted through spitting – untrue, yet widely believed.
  • Astonishingly, 17% of survey respondents thought that TB can be transmitted through unprotected sex.
  • More than two in five (43%) agreed that they would be worried if they had to tell their employer they had TB.

The report ‘Tackling TB in London’ makes a number of recommendations, including:

  • The Mayor should help to deliver a programme to educate the general public about how TB is spread and its symptoms.
  • The Mayor should examine the feasibility of using Team London volunteers as TB health champions in the community and expand the role of current London TB Ambassadors, like actress Emma Thompson.
  • The Greater London Authority (GLA) should consider including TB services as part of its pan-London rough sleeping services.