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PHE releases strategy to tackle TB

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TB control boards will be established to combat the spread of the condition across England, as part of new measures announced in a report by PHE.

The report, Collaborative tuberculosis strategy for England: 2015 to 2020, states that greater coordination of services is required to reduce the incidence of TB. The new TB control boards will be responsible for planning and monitoring all aspects of TB in their area, including clinical and public health services. The control boards will also develop a plan to combat TB specific to their locality, based on the national strategy, local services, local need and evidence-based models.

The strategy also recommends that early diagnosis of TB be improved as 'late diagnosis reinforces pre-existing health and social inequalities, which affect underserved populations to a greater degree.'

Jane Ellison, public health minister said: 'This strategy is a significant step forward in helping us to control and reduce cases of TB, which still affects thousands of people in England every year. It will target those most vulnerable to TB by improving access to screening, diagnostic and treatment services as well as innovative outreach programmes.'

The strategy highlights a disparity in diagnosis in treatment across England, with urban areas such as London, Birmingham and Manchester showing significantly higher rates of TB than other areas. London showed 41.2 cases of TB per 100,000 patients, compared to the national average of 14.2 per 100,000.

Professor Paul Cosford, director for health protection and medical director at PHE, said: 'While many local areas in England have taken major steps to tackle TB, there is still unacceptable variation in the quality of clinical and public health measures across England.'

The report also states that there is a significant inequality of treatment between socioeconomic groups in England. It is estimated that up to 70 per cent of TB cases in England occurred in the group classed as 'most deprived'. The report also stated that nine per cent of cases were linked to a social risk factor such as alcoholism or homelessness.

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