Most people would have thought that epidemics like cholera, measles and scarlet have long been eradicated from the United Kingdom. But, in recent years, scarlet fever and cholera have exploded alongside a significant rise in confirmed instances of whooping cough. The rate of tuberculosis is also disproportionately high although the disease is showing signs of decline.
The NHS (National Health Service), UK, there has been a 300% increase in instances of cholera in the last 5 years, a 38% rise in scurvy and 136% rise in scarlet fever. In contrast, there has been a decline in the rate of tuberculosis during the same period although it is still disproportionately high, and pegs higher compared to what could be expected in developing nations like Iraq, Guatemala, and Rwanda.
Incredibly, on a global basis, TB has caused more deaths during 2015 than AIDS and HIV together. This also brings into focus the importance and severity of a health crisis that is routinely overlooked. According to experts, the root cause for the resurgence of these diseases can be traced to malnutrition, immigration, inadequate access to social/health care and poverty.
Dr. Nuria Martinez-Alier, speaking to CNN said that scarlet fever has seen a huge rise with more than 14,000 suspected instances in the last year which is the highest since the 1960s. He added that the UK has witnessed a rise in tuberculosis, whooping cough, and measles in the last decade compared to the previous ten years.
While most of these diseases seeing a resurgence are curable with appropriate medication. In 2013 along some 1.5 million people died out of 9 million cases of tuberculosis around the world. TB can spread at an incredibly rampant pace and turn fatal when left untreated.
A London resident, currently receiving treatment for TB stated that there is a general sense in the UK that many of these infectious diseases have been eradicated completely, or that the nation has found some way to get rid of the disease, and they can safely be termed as “Victorian illnesses”. However, in reality, that is far from true, and people need to cautious.
Dr. Martinez Alier also warned that the problem is intensified by poor rates of vaccination though cases of malnutrition have also doubled in the UK in recent years.
In the US, the White House has recently published details of a new global initiative in helping to fight tuberculosis resistant to multiple drugs. This initiative aligns with the latest statistics released by the WHO on TB infections and related fatalities.