DoH bids to raise profile of tuberculosis

The Government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, is to launch one of a series of campaigns aimed at raising awareness of tuberculosis.

The Department of Health and groups including the charity TB Alert and the British Thoracic Society (BTS), the professional body for lung specialists, will launch the campaign on World TB day on 24 March.

The respiratory condition hit the headlines last year after an outbreak of 24 cases at a school in Leicester.

Also last year more than 7,000 cases were diagnosed in the UK resulting in 400 deaths.

A DoH spokesman said: 'The issue has gone a bit quiet. What we want to do, while not alarming people, is to explain that the risk is still there.'

A key part of the Government's campaign is to target ethnic minority communities, which are seen as a high-risk group due to links with relatives in countries where the disease is widespread.

Agency Media Moguls has been hired to assist in communicating the issues to the ethnic minority media and healthcare professionals.

Media Moguls managing director Anjna Raheja said: 'There is a stigma, particularly in Asian communities, that having the disease is a sign of poverty - this can lead to late detection. We need to break down barriers such as that.'

Next week the DoH is organising a media event at London's Natural History Museum.

A TV ad to run on Asian TV channels such as Star and featuring Bollywood stars Akshay Kumar and Sonali Bendre, will be unveiled.

TB Alert launches its campaign today (Friday).

BTS, whose PR is handled by Monro & Forster Communications, launches its PR push at the same time as the DoH launch.

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