Some parts of London exhibit higher rates of tuberculosis (TB) compared to countries like Iraq and East African country, Rwanda. The report made by the London Assembly appears to further affirm the dubious title given to the city, which is "TB capital of Western Europe."

London's TB Figures

TB is a major health problem in London. The England capital is said to be accountable for nearly 40 percent of all TB cases in England. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also declared one third of London's administrative units to have incidences of the disease. Such classification has ranked London among countries such as Algeria and Iraq.

The administrative borough in London which was found to have the highest rate of the disease for every population of 100,000 is Newham with 108 cases. For comparison, 2013 reports of WHO showed that the rates for Rwanda and Iraq were 69 and 45 respectively.

Reasons behind London's TB situation

In the report, the London Assembly mentioned a number of possible reasons why London's TB situation has grown worse than other countries.

First off, the authors pointed to poor housing, chronic illness and inadequate nutrition to cause latent TB to develop into an active form.

Second, particular health concerns of citizens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and diabetes, which are both highly prevalent in the city, cause the immune system to falter.

Third, over 80 percent of persons with TB in London were born outside of the country. The rate of people with latent TB arriving in the city is not known and screening for it is not warranted to be cost-effective.

Lasty, poor public awareness and late detection of the disease by general practitioners have been identified to contribute to London's increased TB cases.

Calling out to the Mayor

The London Assembly has called out to city Mayor Boris Johnson to impart TB education to citizens as many people are not aware of disease transmission. As per surveys, more than 50 percent of people thought that the bacteria could be spread via spitting when it is in fact typically transmitted via close and long-term contact with a coughing or sneezing, infected individual.

Dr. Onkar Sahota, the chairman of the Assembly's health committee said that prevention and awareness is low even in the medical field. He also said that the quality of care is different across the city.

"If the Mayor is to reduce health inequalities in London he must combat TB and its underlying social factors," Sahota wrote [pdf] in the report.

The office of Johnson said that the mayor continues to be committed in addressing TB problems in the city.

The report was published online on Tuesday, Oct. 27.

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