Editorials

Doing something about tuberculosis

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7189.956 (Published 10 April 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:956
  1. Alimuddin Zumla, Director (a.zumla@ucl.ac.uk),
  2. John M Grange, Visiting professor
  1. Centre for Infectious Diseases, Windeyer Institute, Royal Free and University College London Medical School, London W1P 6DB

    And the pity, nay the horror of it all, is that the backsliding is most noticeable precisely where militant activity should be most conspicuous.1

    In Tolkien's fantasy epic Lord of the Rings Bilbo Baggins disappeared in a flash of light at his 111th birthday party and was never seen in his home village again. Sadly, 111 years after Robert Koch's discovery of its cause in 1882, tuberculosis was showing no signs of disappearing. On the contrary, it was so prevalent in 1993 that the World Health Organisation felt obliged to take the unprecedented step of declaring this disease a global emergency.2 To many people this declaration must have come as a great surprise. Tuberculosis was supposed to be “conquered”—the sanatoriums of yesteryear had been abandoned; milk was safe to drink; children had been given BCG vaccination since the 1950s; and, when …

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