Feature Respiratory Diseases

Tuberculosis: a clear and present danger

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d2089 (Published 01 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2089
  1. Peter Moszynski, freelance journalist
  1. 1London, UK
  1. globewisecom{at}hotmail.com

What is being done to tackle the rise of tuberculosis both in the United Kingdom and globally? Peter Moszynski reports from a conference

After many decades of decline, the age old spectre of tuberculosis is making a comeback, fuelled by the rise of increasing drug resistance and coinfection with HIV. At a symposium at the Royal Society of Medicine on 23 March (www.rsm.ac.uk/academ/rmb02.php) experts discussed what is currently being done to deal with the problem both in the UK and globally.

According to the Health Protection Agency, around 9000 cases of tuberculosis are currently reported each year in the United Kingdom.1 Most occur in major cities, particularly in London.

Ibrahim Abubakar, the agency’s head of tuberculosis surveillance, said: “Tuberculosis is currently at the highest levels since the 1970s.” The key to reducing infection rates was “early diagnosis and appropriate treatment.” Dr Abubakar emphasised: “It is important that health commissioners, especially in parts of the country with the highest rates of tuberculosis, prioritise the delivery of appropriate clinical and public health services.”

According to John Hayward, of the Public Health Action Support Team, London’s burden of tuberculosis was “a whole order of magnitude greater” than that in any other UK or European city. “Nowhere …

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