THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Official reports reduction in death rate from TB

From the News Letter, August 4, 1927

Sunday, 2nd August 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 8:46 pm
Castle Place, Belfast. Picture: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Castle Place, Belfast. Picture: National Library of Ireland on The Commons

The News Letter on this day in 1927 reported that “some valuable information” had been provided by a report which had been published tackling the problem of tuberculosis in Belfast.

The report had been compiled by Dr Andrew Trimble, JP, the chief tuberculosis officer for the County Borough of Belfast.

The report detailed that the number of new patients examined during 1926 had been 1,904 as compared with 1,990 the previous year and 2,033 in 1924 and showed that 1,054 had in fact been confirmed as tuberculosis, while there had been 115 suspected cases of the disease and 856 non-tuberculosis.

With reference to the 856 patients who were found not to be suffering from tuberculosis 330 were persons living in contact with patients suffering from the disease and special attention had been drawn to them by the visiting nurse.

The following city wards were noted for having patients suffering from tuberculosis living in there “at the time of their first examination”: Pottinger, 137; Victoria, 102; Shankill, 99; Falls, 99; Ormeau, 85; St George’s, 71; Woodvale, 66; Court, 62; Smithfield, 56; Clifton, 54; Dock, 54; Duncairn, 50; St Anne’s, 48; Cromac, 43 and Windsor, 28.

As for the treatment of patients suffering tuberculosis and their ability to recover Dr Trimble had remarked in his report: “It is admittedly difficult to assess the condition of patients after treatment but it is interesting that as many as 112 were considered to have been apparently cured, and – grouping the first two classes together – 254 were apparently cured or their disease had become quiescent.” He added: “If this can be accomplished under domiciliary treatment and in face of all the disabilities connected with overcrowding, how much might be accomplished if social conditions were what they should be. If people realised the importance of attention to early symptoms and the patience and courage to carry out the instructions of the doctor in regard to rest in the early stages of the disease?”