45th Union World Conference on Lung Health: Alarm Bells about TB and Diabetes

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UNIONTBBARCELONA, Spain –  The opening press conference of the 45th Union World Conference on Lung Health highlighted a new report calling for international action against the latest co-epidemic, tuberculosis and diabetes. With alarming similarities to the deadly synergy of HIV/TB, the intersection between tuberculosis and diabetes compromises treatment outcomes for both diseases, Dr. Anthony Harries told a packed press room. The combined impact of the two diseases threatens current progress on tuberculosis as the 380 million people living with diabetes — 80 percent of whom live in low and middle-income countries — have a 3 times greater risk of developing TB disease than those without diabetes.  He cited 2012 World Health Organization findings that 15 percent of tuberculosis cases occurred among individuals with diabetes comparable to the 15 percent of TB cases among persons with HIV.  Noting the slow global and country response to TB/HIV co-infection, Harries worried about a similar slow response to TB/Diabetes in the face of a predicted increase in diabetes to 592 million cases by 2035.  Six of the top ten countries projected to have the greatest number of people living with diabetes by the year 2035 — China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Pakistan and the Russian Federation — are classified as high TB burden countries by the WHO.

Dr. Anil Kapur from the World Diabetes Foundation called for bi-directional screening of individuals for TB and diabetes in high burden TB countries  to address the large pool of undiagnosed diabetes cases — almost half of all persons with diabetes, and the very similar early symptoms of both diseases.  Like TB/HIV co-infection, the two diseases together undermine efforts to treat either — to manage diabetes and to cure tuberculosis.  In fact, treatment advice to those living with both conditions is complicated, since those with TB are encouraged to enhance their nutrition and increase their weight, while controling diabetes calls for weight reduction.

See the full report– The Looming Co-Epidemic of TB-Diabetes: A Call to Action at http://barcelona.worldlunghealth.org/dm-tb-report


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