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We must act on living conditions in the fight against tuberculosis

24 March 2011 – To mark World TB Day, ARCHIVE urges government, private and third sector authorities to pay greater attention to housing/living conditions as an important measure in the fight against tuberculosis (TB).

Peter Williams, Founder and Executive Director of ARCHIVE, says: “Decent living conditions are an effective measure for stemming TB transmission especially in overcrowded households. Despite the vast amount of research which already exists on this, the relevant authorities have yet to put this knowledge into practice. We recognize that timely diagnosis and adequate drug treatment are certainly crucial to patient recovery, but to ignore living conditions in the fight against TB is to make a grave error.

“With better housing conditions, we can help reduce the impact of TB. By putting greater focus on preventing transmission, we can avoid infections and reduce the burden on our healthcare systems. We urge public health practitioners and housing authorities to join forces particularly in areas with high inequalities. We need to foster a holistic health strategy that utilizes good housing as one means to reduce the transmission of TB and other infectious diseases.”
Globally there are more than 9 million new TB cases and nearly 2 million people die from it every year (WHO). TB is an airborne disease associated with poor housing conditions such as overcrowding, inadequate ventilation, and the lack of sunlight. It is very much a disease of the urban poor. As people in developing countries move into cities they often face appalling living conditions. A third of the world’s urban population – about 1 billion people – live in slums (UN-Habitat). With most of the world's urban population growth occurring in developing countries, this could exacerbate the risk of TB even further.

But TB is a problem in developed countries, too. In total, 11,545 TB cases (a rate of 3.8 cases per 100,000 persons) were reported in the United States in 2009 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and approximately 1,300 cases are reported each year in New York State (New York State Department of Health). The poorest communities and the homeless face particularly high risks of infection.
For more information on ARCHIVE, please visit: http://www.archiveinstitute.org
 
 

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