World TB Day 2023: New HSE Tuberculosis Strategy for Ireland

Today (Friday, 24th March), the HSE National Health Protection Service has announced that it is developing a new strategy to tackle TB in Ireland to deliver on World Health Organization (WHO) targets to reduce the incidence of TB and deaths from the disease.

Today marks World TB Day and provides a timely opportunity to raise awareness of TB, according to the Director of the HSE Health Protection Service, Dr Éamonn O’Moore: “TB is a priority programme within the HSE Health Protection Strategy. TB is an important infectious disease, which is still causing problems in Ireland and around the world. For the vast majority of people diagnosed, TB is treatable and curable. Early detection is important and avoids health complications for those infected and less risk of transmission to others.

“Our strategy aims to tackle TB in Ireland during this current decade delivering on WHO targets in the End TB Strategy to reduce TB incidence by 80%, TB deaths by 90%, and to eliminate catastrophic costs for TB-affected households by 2030”, said Dr O’ Moore.

Dr O’ Moore also noted that some groups may be at higher risk of TB. These include people who are homeless, people who are substance users and those who have hazardous alcohol drinking behaviours, people who are or have been in prison, and those who are born overseas in countries with higher levels of infection.

There were 222 cases of tuberculosis notified in Ireland in 2022. This equates to a rate of 4.3/100,000 population (using 2022 Census denominator). This is a slight increase compared to 2021 but is still below pre-pandemic levels.

Dr O’ Moore continues, “Not everyone at risk of TB realises this. The HSE Health Protection Service are working in partnership with others to raise awareness and to improve diagnostic and treatment pathways particularly with those at higher risk of infection. This work is person-centred, informed by the people we serve and sensitive to cultural, social and economic issues among people at higher risk of TB.

“Work on TB is not simply about health care but also recognises the need for wider supports to people directly and indirectly impacted by TB, considering wider social determinants of health in a public health approach to reduce infection and support people living healthier lives.”

Symptoms of Tuberculosis can include:

  • Coughing for a prolonged period
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Chest pain, pain with breathing or coughing
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Chills