With 1.7 million TB cases and over 60 million diabetes cases, India unfortunately has nearly the highest global burden of both these diseases. It is a well-known fact that Type 2 Diabetes is associated with an altered immune response to TB, more so if the blood sugar stays high for a long period. Patients with both diabetes and TB take longer to respond to TB treatment. Diabetes can also worsen the clinical course of TB. A recent World Health Organization (WHO) study in Kerala cemented the link in India finding that half of TB patients included tested positively for diabetes. The current diabetes epidemic may lead to a flood of TB patients. According to WHO guidelines, all TB patients should be screened for diabetes. However, in India, only patients with drug-resistant TB are currently screened for diabetes. Early detection of diabetes among drug-sensitive TB patients can increase care and control of both and reduce morbidity and mortality associated with both diseases.
Through a six-month pilot, Operation ASHA is investigating the potential ways and means of establishing a sustainable model for diabetes management among TB patients.
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