New board created to tackle TB in Suffolk and Essex as part of £11.5m investment to stamp out the disease nationwide


NHS. - Credit: PA

A new board has been created to tackle tuberculosis (TB) in Suffolk and Essex as part of an £11.5million collaborative investment seeking to eliminate the disease nationwide.

Public Health England and NHS England have announced their joint strategy after it emerged that 243 TB cases were reported in East Anglia and Essex - an incidence of 5.8 cases per 100,000 of the population. The national rate of 13.5 is one of the highest in Western Europe.

The English figures far exceed those in the USA, Germany and Holland, which have all reported consistent reductions in TB cases after taking concerted approaches to prevention, treatment and control. If current trends continue, England will have more TB cases than the whole of the USA.

Giri Shankar, consultant for communicable disease control for PHE in the Anglia and Essex area said: “While the incidence of TB across much of East Anglia and Essex is significantly below the national average, there are still hotspot areas such as Peterborough.’

“Combatting TB is a national priority for PHE and today’s announcement will mark the start of our five year ambition to make a real difference. TB should be consigned to the past and yet it is occurring in England at higher rates than most of Western Europe.

Dr Shankar said that a “key challenge” to improving standards of TB control involved taking initiatives locally in every region.

“This strategy aims to achieve the required accountability and delivery needed to control the disease through the establishment of TB control boards in each region, working closely with local TB networks and local government and the development of a national programme to support local efforts,” Dr Shankar added.

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A county-by-county breakdown of the figures shows Suffolk has a rate of 3.3; Essex, 4.9; Norfolk, 3.6.