Emma Thompson helps Mayor Boris’s TB screening at Whitechapel Mission
- Credit: Archant
Actress Emma Thompson turned up at a homeless mission centre in London’s East End with her son today to help a public health project to fight Tuberculosis.
She met some of the homeless people, including some who sleep rough on the streets, while they were getting ready for X-Rays at a mobile screening unit parked outside the Whitechapel Mission.
Emma has a special interest in TB after her son Tindy, who joined her on the visit, was diagnosed and treated in 2011.
The screen and stage star became the Mayor of London’s TB ambassador last January to help raise awareness of the disease and challenge the stigma associated with it.
“I am committed to this campaign after my son’s experience,” she said. “Early diagnosis and treatment are vital.
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“The scale of TB in such a developed, world-class city as London is alarming.”
Her visit was part of London Mayor Boris Johnson’s project before he leaves office in May to make a short film to raise public awareness.
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“I will continue working with the mayor to keep this disease at the top of the health agenda,” she added.
London already has a higher-than-national average of TB cases.
The mobile Find & Treat service, which has running in London since 2005, offers screening and refers those who are diagnosed to receive treatment and also gives vaccines against flu and pneumonia. It works with a network of 200 health and social care services, screening 10,000 high-risk Londoners each year, with an 84pc success rate.
Dr Alistair Story, from the Find & Treat service, said: “Our mobile unit regularly visits the Whitechapel Mission to provide checks as part of our services for the homeless.
“TB is an infectious airborne disease that remains a threat to public health, so we aim to make sure those most at risk get diagnosed early—and cured.”
The Whitechapel Mission serves one of the most deprived areas in the country, in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, with its population TB ratio even worse than the average across the metropolis, as well as its chronic homelessness.
The screening campaign is aimed at socially vulnerable groups most at risk, such as the homeless, immigrants in poverty or those with drug and alcohol problems who made up 10 per cent of the 2,600 cases reported in London in 2014.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “It is unacceptable that London still has some of the highest levels of TB in Western Europe.
“But our mobile service is making a difference by diagnosing and treating hard-to-reach communities.”
Emma Thompson’s involvement in the project, along with her son Tindy, is helping raise public awareness and bringing home the message that anyone can be affected.