The incidence of Tuberculosis (TB) has doubled in London over the last 20 years, accounting for 39% of the cases in England and Wales in 2007. The first and second highest rates of incidence are found in the boroughs of Newham and Brent, respectively with 110 and 101 new cases per 100,000 of population.
TB if left untreated can spread to others and can be fatal, however if diagnosed early and treated patients can feel better within two weeks of treatment, are no longer a risk to other people and go on to make a full recovery.
One of the main reasons for TB cases being on the increase in these boroughs is due to poor housing conditions and poor diet. These conditions can compromise the immune system and so dormant TB (which is thought to be in 1 out of every three people) can become active and so the disease takes hold.
We are aware that both boroughs have issues around poor housing and with people living in houses of multiple occupancy, HMO’s and some residents even known to 'bed share' according to peoples life and work shift patterns. Housing departments in both boroughs are implementing approaches to deal with these housing issues but cannot do this alone and unfortunately in the meantime people and children continue to live in such conditions.
ARCHIVE UK an international charity using housing design to prevent illness and support care among the most disadvantaged. In 2013 they approached and provided funding for HealthWorks in London to develop and deliver a TB project aimed at secondary school age children that would link key messages around poor housing conditions and communicable diseases such as TB.
The aim of the project: to raise awareness of the link between the need for a healthy diet and the importance of living in good housing. To raise how diseases such as TB can be avoided and or treated and together with children and a film company develop a number of short videos for uploading to YouTube / school websites /and for the students to then show this and their learning in an assembly to the rest of the year group, school and to also play to their parents and families.
We identified the need and employed two environmental health students from Middlesex University to assist with delivery of work in schools. We identified a local film company passionate about health, education and the welfare of the local community, Flexible films and together set of to explore how best to deliver educational sessions on the subject and ensuring that children would learn and pass on their knowledge to others, particularly their carers and families.
Click on the film below to see how we worked with and delivered Raising Awareness of Poor living conditions and Risk of Tuberculosis, TB sessions to all year 9 students in Cumberland Secondary School and how students will act as our agents for change.
The film starts with a film we developed and made with our two environmental health students, one playing the role of, Tom, the tenant living in a garage being interviewed by the other student playing the role of an housing officer. This short film was played at the start of each lesson. Followed by the EHO students taking the class still in character and catching up with Tom (the tenant) six months on. The lesson included a multiple choice myths and facts about TB and concludes with the year 9 school students being interviewed about key message they would be taking away to tell their families and friends.
Hanging in the air, Tuberculosis in London