Press release

Uniting to end TB in England

World TB Day marks one year since the Tuberculosis Strategy for England was launched.

In the spirit of the motto of this year’s World TB Day (Unite to end TB), Public Health England (PHE) is celebrating the strong progress made towards implementing the national strategy in collaboration with NHS England and other major stakeholders.

One year ago, PHE and NHS England jointly launched the 5-year strategy to eliminate TB as a public health problem, and announced an £11.5 million investment as part of a collaborative initiative to decrease TB cases and reduce health inequalities.

A significant step has been the formation of 7 regional TB control boards across England, which bring together PHE, local authority public health, the NHS, NHS England, local commissioners and charities to work collaboratively to control TB in their area, ‘uniting to end TB’.

A key intervention from NHS England and PHE was the launch of a fully funded national testing and treatment programme for latent TB infection for persons who recently arrived from areas of the world where TB is common.

All 59 of the high TB burden areas in England have now signed up to this programme, which is based on evidence that treatment of people with dormant (‘latent’) TB prevents progression to the active TB disease.

NHS England are pleased to announce that they are providing a further £10 million to fund on-going testing and treatment programmes for latent TB infection in new entrants in the next year.

Other key parts of the strategy are:

  • awareness raising and improving TB services to socially vulnerable groups
  • using innovative solutions such as mobile X-Ray unit to find and treat TB amongst under-served populations, including the homeless

The latest data for TB in England show that there were 6,520 cases of TB in 2014, a rate of 12.0 per 100,000 population, down from the peak of 15.6 cases per 100,000 population in 2011.

Dr. Sarah Anderson, PHE TB Strategy lead said:

The theme of World TB Day is ‘Unite to End TB’, so today we celebrate the close collaboration between many groups to implement the Collaborative TB Strategy.

It’s good to see that the TB Strategy is being implemented successfully and that we are putting into practice what we know is working.

Professor Ibrahim Abubakar, Head of TB at PHE said:

We cannot afford to rest on our laurels while TB rates in England still remain among the highest in Western Europe, but the implementation of our TB Strategy shows us the way forward for the next 5 years.

The job is a long way from finished, but the Strategy and its key intervention areas including the implementation of systematic testing and treatment for latent TB infection of migrants from high burden countries is expected to lead to further declines in TB incidence in the coming years.

Background information

  1. Subscribe to the TB Strategy Implementation Update for progress on the TB strategy.
  2. Read the PHE Tuberculosis in England report (2015).
  3. TB is a disease caused by a bacterium (bug). When someone with active lung TB coughs, sneezes or spits, TB germs may be propelled into the air. TB is not very easy to catch: usually you need close and prolonged contact with a person with active TB in the lungs.
  4. In England, most TB cases occur amongst specific risk groups, such as people with close links to countries with a high TB burden (often settled migrants from such countries, who experience reactivation of latent TB infection acquired many years previously), people with social risk factors such as homelessness, a history of imprisonment or problem drug or alcohol use, and older people.

Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Follow us on Twitter: @PHE_uk and Facebook: www.facebook.com/PublicHealthEngland.

Public Health England press office