Diabetes mellitus (DM) and tuberculosis (TB) have existed for thousands of years and even now the global disease burden from DM and TB is huge. The incidence of TB is declining slowly but it still remains a big problem in many populous large low and middle income countries. On the other, hand the burden of diabetes is increasing very rapidly, particularly in the very same countries where TB is endemic. The intersecting double burden is therefore ominous particularly as several studies and systematic reviews have indicated that DM increases the risk of TB disease and results in poor treatment outcomes. To address the double burden, WHO and the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) in 2011 launched a collaborative framework for the care and control of diabetes and tuberculosis, to encourage collaborative research and implement bidirectional screening of the two diseases in routine settings. This review article (i) explores some of the new evidence for the association between TB and DM, (ii) discusses issues with regard to clinical presentation and outcomes, (iii) presents the evidence, challenges and strategies for bidirectional screening based on field studies to implement the framework and (iv) finally presents suggestions on how diabetes care delivery may benefit from the lessons of the TB DOTS approach and public health principles for structured care delivery.
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