Tuberculosis Affects Mostly African and Asian Communities in the UK

January 13, 2024
2 mins read

By Newsdesk

 Tuesday, September 17, 2013.

 British people who hail from Africa and Asia constitute
a significant proportion of people with tuberculosis, according to a new study.
Of those
born abroad, the majority of cases were from South Asia who make up six in ten
people who have contacted the disease while Africans constitute one in five TB

London retained the main
burden of infection in 2012, with 3,426 cases accounting for almost 40 per cent
of the UK total, followed by the West Midlands with 12 per cent. Country of
origin was recorded in 96 per cent of new TB cases. As in previous years,
almost three quarters of cases were in people born in countries where TB is
more common.

These figures are published
in Public Health England’s (PHE) annual “TB in the UK: 2013 report”. It suggests that in the
UK-born population, those most at risk remain individuals from ethnic minority
groups, those with social risk factors such as a history of homelessness,
imprisonment or problem use of drugs or alcohol, and the elderly.

Dr Lucy Thomas, head of TB Surveillance for PHE, said: “TB is a preventable and treatable
condition, but, if left untreated, can be life threatening. Efforts to control
the spread of this infection must remain a public health priority. Early
diagnosis and appropriate treatment are key to reducing TB levels in the UK and
local health service commissioners must prioritise the delivery of appropriate
clinical and public health services for TB, especially in areas where TB rates
are highest.”

 Dr Thomas points out that to reduce the risk of active TB disease in
people coming to the UK from high incidence countries, it is essential that new
migrants have good access to screening and diagnostic services.

“Ensuring that NICE’s – National Institute for Health and Clinical
Excellence- recommendations on screening for latent TB infection are
implemented in a coordinated manner across the country is therefore very

 Drug resistance to TB treatment remains a problem, although the
proportion of TB cases showing resistance to the first line antibiotic
isoniazid decreased slightly to 6.8 per cent of cases in 2012. 

Dr Paul Cosford, Director for Health Protection and Medical Director at
PHE, said: “TB remains a critical public health problem, particularly in parts
of London and among people from vulnerable communities. Given current trends,
within two years we are likely to have more new cases of TB each year in the UK
than in the whole of the United States.  We have therefore made TB one of
the key priorities for PHE and are working with key partners to oversee the
development of a stronger national approach to TB control. We will announce the
details of this approach in the Autumn.

“This will have at its heart support to local clinical, preventive and
social care services in the NHS, local government and wider health and social
care system. We are determined to see a sustained reduction in TB, and will
work tirelessly to support local partners in those areas where the burden is

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