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Our hospital's TB history

Heritage image of Benenden Hospital

Every March we observe World TB Day to raise understanding and awareness of one of the world’s most infectious diseases. The rise of tuberculosis among postmen became the catalyst for the establishment of what we now know as Benenden Hospital. Read on to discover more about our early hospital patients and how TB is still an epidemic today:

The birth of Benenden Hospital

In 1905, Charles Garland set up the National Association for the Establishment and Maintenance of Sanatoria for Workers Suffering from Tuberculosis Friendly Society (known today as Benenden Health).

The hospital’s foundation stone was laid the following year in 1906 (this still has pride of place in the hospital today) and in 1907 we began welcoming Post Office workers who recovered in the peaceful and naturally beautiful surroundings that patients of Benenden Hospital still enjoy today.

The caring ethos remains important to our service, and we think that Charles Garland would be proud of our calm and welcoming environment and the work every individual here puts in to maintaining our Outstanding CQC rating. On these lamps are the names of the post offices the workers came from, who fell ill with TB and received treatment at our hospital.

Tuberculosis in modern times

140 years ago, on 24 March 1882, Dr Robert Koch announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB. This opened the way towards diagnosing and curing this disease and the day also now marks World TB Day.

Unfortunately, TB remains with us worldwide and we use World TB Day as an opportunity to raise awareness of its burden and the progression of prevention and care efforts.

Goals for beating the disease this World TB Day

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) theme for World TB Day in 2023 is: ‘Yes! We can end TB!’. The aim is to inspire hope and encourage engagement, support and collaboration from high-level leadership and sectors to combat the TB epidemic.

Since the year 2000, global efforts to combat TB have saved approximately 74 million lives. 

With treatment, TB can usually be cured. If you’re diagnosed with TB, you’ll most likely need a course of antibiotics for approximately six months. Several different antibiotics are used because some forms of TB are resistant to certain antibiotics. The WHO continues to promote and track progress in the development of new tuberculosis diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines.

To support this year’s World TB Day, visit the WHO website and discover the ways you can help to invest to end TB and subsequently save lives.

Celebrate our hospital’s history

Here at Benenden Hospital, we take pride in the fact our rich history includes a period when we contributed to the worldwide fight against TB. Learn more about our hospital’s history here.

Published on 24 March 2023