TB costs to ‘spiral’ under status quo – proposals show

Maintaining of the status quo over the next 40 years would cost Northern Ireland an estimated £1,055 million (€1,189.8 million) in TB costs alone, a department report has claimed.

Meanwhile, it claims implementing proposals made by the TB Strategic Partnership Group could cut as much as £205 million off this figure.

Department of Agriculture permanent secretary Noel Lavery said the “spiralling costs” associated with rising disease levels were an “unwanted burden for taxpayers” and a risk to the future of Northern Ireland food exports.

Saving £205 million

The TB situation has got so bad the latest estimates predict the disease could cost the department £40 million (€45.1 million) this year alone.

It contrasts with full implementation of the recommendations which are believed to cost an estimated £850 million (€958.6 million) based on 2016 prices.

The department claims implementing the changes in full, therefore, would lead to a saving of approximately £205 million (€231.2 million) over 40 years when compared directly with the status quo.

It is also estimated that implementing a scaled-down programme after achieving eradication would cost around £8.5 million (€9.6 million) a year.

The costs of maintaining the current scenario is estimated to sit at around £24 million (€27 million) and £28 million (€31.6 million) depending on continuing variations in incidence rates.

Working towards eradication

TB could be virtually eradicated within 40 years researchers in Northern Ireland claim.

Disease projections indicate that the status quo would result in a TB herd incidence level in the range of 6-7% by Year 40 (2056).

Whereas implementation of TBSPG recommendations, whilst continuing with the implementation of the baseline programme activities, would result in a herd incidence level of 0.1%.

The TB herd incidence level in 2015 was 7.0%. However, the latest figures show that by October 2017 herd incidence had risen to 9.47%.