Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WARNING OVER SOARING TB CASES; Adviser Wants Sanatoriums to Treat Victims

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

WARNING OVER SOARING TB CASES; Adviser Wants Sanatoriums to Treat Victims

Article excerpt


A NEW alert has been raised over the tuberculosis crisis gripping London.

A senior government adviser today calls for the return of the sanatorium in which carriers are isolated in a bid to control the spread of the disease.

Rates of TB in some London boroughs are now at Third World proportions and cases of its more dangerous drug-resistant form are increasing, the head of Britain's TB unit warned.

Professor Francis Drobniewski said the disease is also spreading from poverty-stricken areas to more middleclass ones.

He put this down to a small minority of patients who are refusing treatment and going on to infect other members of the public. Rates of the disease are at a 10-year high. Last year there were 6,838 cases in England and Wales and more than 3,000 of those were in London. At a conference organised by the British Medical Association to discuss London's TB crisis on Thursday, Professor Drobniewski will make the controversial proposal that patients who persistently refuse treatment should be forcibly detained in secure units.

He will also call for the return of sanatoriums to treat other vulnerable sufferers - such as the homeless - in isolation. He will suggest a system of small units with private grounds where patients could receive treatment for up to six months without coming into contact with healthy ple are still infected, and passing on the infection to other people.

"We need to balance the rights of the individual against the interests of the public's health, and I would always err on the side of the individual.

"But some people have chaotic lives and they may benefit from choosing to go into a sanatorium where they will get food, shelter and treatment.

"For the small minority of people who refuse all treatment options, it may be that we need to have a way of detaining them in a similar way to the Mental Health Act.

"We would not force treatment on them, but they could be detained in secure units to prevent them from infecting other people."

New York introduced a similar detention system to control a TB epidemic in the 1980s.

People who did not take their medicine are now detained at a hospital on Roosevelt Island, in the middle of the East River. …

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