Updated NICE tuberculosis (TB) guidelines call for greater education and prevention to help target people from socially deprived backgrounds who are most vulnerable to contracting the infection.
More than 6,500 cases of TB were reported across England in 2014, and of these over 2,500 occurred in London. People who live in areas with high levels social deprivation are most vulnerable to developing TB. These include those who are homeless, poor housing, live in poverty or are drug users.
The guideline recommends raising and sustaining awareness of TB. It calls for health professionals to work with the voluntary and community organisations, and the general public and at-risk groups in particular.
It identifies that awareness should be raised about the following key messages:
- Treatment for TB is free and confidential for everyone irrespective of eligibility for other NHS care.
- Signs and symptoms of TB.
- Benefits of diagnosis and treatment.
Professor Mark Baker, Director for the Centre of Clinical Practice at NICE, said: “TB is a disease that is treatable and curable, but it preys on the vulnerable. Those with compromised health and people suffering poor living conditions are at increased risk.”
“The new NICE guidance sets out the systematic and robust approach we need to reduce the current impact of TB, effectively treat those infected and reduce its spread. This guideline, together with Public Health England’s TB strategy will undoubtedly contribute to the goal of eliminating TB from England.”
You can access further information, including the guideline, on the NICE website here.