MASS migration and poverty have sent rates of tuberculosis in parts of London soaring to levels higher than those in Rwanda, Eritrea and Iraq, according to a new report.
Mass migration have increased rates of TB in some parts of London
Experts behind the health study said there was a “clear link” between the potentially fatal infectious disease and migration, and revealed that 80 per cent of sufferers were born abroad.
More than 2,500 new cases of TB were recorded in the capital last year, nearly half of the UK’s annual total.
Dr Onkar Sahota, chair of the London Assembly Health Committee which published the report, called the findings “astounding” and demanded Mayor Boris Johnson take action.
The study said the capital had the unwanted title of “TB capital of Western Europe” for over a decade.
It found infection rates in one in three city boroughs crossed the World Health Organisation’s “high incidence” threshold with more than 40 cases per 100,000 people.
In the worst hit areas, Hounslow, Brent, Harrow, Newham and Ealing, the rate was more than 150.
Official statistics show rates in Iraq are 45 per 100,000 while Rwanda had 69 and Eritrea 92.
Across the UK, there were 13 cases per 100,000.
The most high-risk groups are refugees, migrants, prisoners, drug users and homeless, the study showed.
Indians, Pakistanis and Somalians were most commonly affected.
A total of 6,520 cases of TB were recorded last year, down from 7,257 in 2013.
Globally nine million people fell ill with TB and 1.5million died from the disease in 2013.
In his report Dr Sahota said: “There is a clear link between TB and migration but it is a complex story that is easy to misinterpret. While more than 80 per cent of London TB cases occur in people who were born abroad, it is unlikely they brought active TB into the country. We do not know how many people come to London with latent TB.”
Tuberculosis, which is passed on through coughing and sneezing, can move from being dormant to active due to poor housing, chronic ill health and poor diet.
Dr Sahota’s report called for Londoners to be educated on TB and for the Greater London Authority to include TB services for rough sleepers.
A London Assembly spokesman said: “The Mayor takes the issue of TB seriously and recognises it is a significant health challenge for London.”