Regional Public Health group have agreed to undertake
a two-year pilot project to reduce the incidence of TB
in London. A mobile digital chest X-ray service (MXU)
will target groups at higher risk of TB, through active
case-finding, over a two year period. The MXU would use
mobile digital chest radiography unit capable of safely
screening 300 people a day. The project is to be financed
with funding received for TB service development from
the Department of Health.
Since 1988 TB rates have doubled in London, and trebled
in many Inner London boroughs. 3,163 cases were logged
on to the London TB Register in 2002. London is responsible
for virtually all the growth in TB cases in England in
the last 10 years.
Crucially, the MXU will offer on-the-spot evaluation
of the patient and helps raise awareness of TB among risk
groups and those who work with them. The groups who would
be targeted have poor access to health services, where
delayed presentation equals increased transmission.
The MXU was launched on World TB Day –
24th March 2005 by the Mayor of London at City Hall.
Following this launch the service will access groups
at high risk of TB across London. The following
groups have been identified:
- Homeless people including rough sleepers and
people living in temporary or hostel accommodation.
- People from countries where TB is endemic.
- Prison inmates
- Hard Drug users and Street-drinkers
Taking this approach to make contact with the above
groups is crucially important. Traditional approaches
to control are ineffective for transient groups
with complex needs and large outbreaks involving
drug users, homeless persons and prisoners are ongoing
and often not controlled.
High incidence of TB is still confined to identifiable
high-risk groups; we therefore have an opportunity to
detect cases in these groups before they become infectious
and "get ahead of the curve" before TB spills
over into the wider community.
This is an innovative health
outreach project with the primary purpose of reducing
TB and thereby improving the health of targeted
socially excluded groups in London.
For the period of the project the
unit will systematically visit areas of high incidence.
The five TB sectors will decide on their priorities
for use of the unit. The project Manager is currently
working on an operational plan for the project ensuring
that representation of the project in each of the
sectors is proportional to the number of TB case
notifications, the population and giving regard
to levels of social deprivation.
Please contact Terry Joe, MXU Project Manager,
on 020 7380 9738 for further information.