Worldwide increase in diabetes: implications for tuberculosis control
Susan P Fisher-Hoch
Division of Epidemiology, Human Genetics and Environmental Science, University of Texas School of Public Health, Brownsville Campus, Brownsville, TX, USA
Abstract: Diabetes presents a greater threat to global tuberculosis (TB) control than previously appreciated, with risk of reversing the achievements of several decades. An estimated 382 million people worldwide currently have diabetes, half of whom are undiagnosed. Most live in low- and middle-income countries alongside many of the two billion individuals infected with TB. Though the frequency of TB in type 1 diabetes was known for centuries, only recently have we observed the tripling of TB in type 2 diabetes, most significantly in high-burden TB populations such as in Peru, Russia, and the People's Republic of China. In India diabetes is estimated to have increased TB cases by 46% between 1998 and 2008. Diabetes is a greater long-term threat to TB control than human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) since ten-fold more people are affected by diabetes than HIV/AIDS in larger geographic areas. Diabetes in TB increases drug resistance, treatment failure, and mortality, and may increase the spread of drug-resistant strains. Delayed or missed diagnosis fuels transmission of TB and hinders control of diabetes. Tailored treatment for diabetes patients requires well-designed clinical trials. The World Health Organization (WHO) framework for care and control of diabetes and TB needs improved screening strategies. Determination of how best to establish bi-directional screening is hampered by lack of affordable and reliable methods. Recommendations include education of health care providers, patients, and communities. Structured diabetes programs with registries and effective follow-up could be modeled on and communicate with existing TB programs. Vital research should address new diagnostic tools, lowering cost and evaluation of intervention strategies, as well as better understanding of the impaired immune responses that make diabetes patients more susceptible to TB leading to targeted therapies. Solutions will require the combination of good science, good decision-making, adequate funding, and political will.
Keywords: type 2 diabetes, MDR-TB, global public health
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