Health care experts have released a report warning of a looming co-epidemic of diabetes and tuberculosis.
Released by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (IUATLD) and the World Diabetes Foundatio, the report says diabetes and tuberculosis are leading causes of death and disability around the world.
Report findings
According to the report, half of those with diabetes would be unaware they had tuberculosis, an infectious, airborne bacterial disease, until a complication developed.
Diabetes triples the risk of a person developing tuberculosis, with an estimated 1.5 million people dying from tuberculosis across the world in 2013.
Urgency has been stressed in taking steps to halt this trend, with 80 per cent of all diabetes cases predicted to occur within the next 20 years.
Asia is predicted to be hit hard, with China, India, Indonesia and Pakistan – along with Brazil and the Russian Federation – classified by the World Health Organisation as high-tuberculosis burden countries.
Linking diabetes and tuberculosis
Anthony Harries, an IUATLD senior scientific adviser, says diabetes increases the risk of contracting tuberculosis in high tuberculosis-prevalence countries.
“What diabetes does, through mechanisms we don’t quite understand, is reduce the body’s immunity,” Harries said.
“The immune system goes down and the body then becomes more susceptible to allowing the TB germs that are inside it, to basically multiply and get tuberculosis. That’s how we think this relationship works.”

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