Tower Hamlets highest rate of measles in country

TOWER Hamlets has topped a health shame list with cases of measles, tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases some of the highest in the country.

The borough has the highest rate of measles in the UK, a damming report by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) revealed on Thursday.

From 2006 to 2008 there were an average 24.6 cases of measles per 100,000 people. The national average was just two.

The HPA said the high rate was most likely due to the borough’s low uptake of both doses of the MMR vaccine. The health watchdog added that vaccination needed to be at least 95 per-cent to prevent the spread of the virus. However, Tower Hamlets’ current vaccination rate is just 78.9 per-cent.

The report also found those living in the borough will die younger on average than the rest of the country. While Tower Hamlets men have a life expectancy of 75, the national average was three years older. Women were also given a life expectancy of 80 – two years below the national age.

Adding to our health shame, the borough also had the eighth highest rate of tuberculosis diagnoses in the country.

Tower Hamlets had on average 61 new tuberculosis cases per 100,000 people from 2004 to 2006. The national average was just 15.

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The highest in the country was neighbouring Newham with a whopping 102 cases.

The HPA suggested the high rate of tuberculosis in east London was due to the large number of people emigrating from countries with lung disease.

Sexually-transmitted diseases were also high in Tower Hamlets. On average there were 851 chlamydia diagnoses per 100,000 young people aged 15 to 24. The national average was 695 in 2008.

Tower Hamlets also had one of the highest rates of people living with HIV in the country. In 2007 the borough had 5.5 out of every 100,000 people living with the disease – five times the national average.

However it wasn’t all bad news with many of these receiving early diagnoses – essential for treatment of HIV.

The borough was also better than average at taking up cervical cancer vaccinations. Tower Hamlets had one of the highest rates in the country of girls aged 12 to 13 accepting all three doses of the Human Papillomavirus (used in the fight against cervical cancer) in 2008/2009.

The uptake of the seasonal flu vaccine was also the fifth highest in the country in 2008/2009.