This week the Dasman Diabetes Institute, which was established by Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), and the International Centre for Migration Health and Development (ICMHD) concluded a two-day meeting on the subject of diabetes and tuberculosis. The meeting, which was opened by Dr Hilal Al-Sayer, former minister of health, was held at the Dasman Diabetes Institute on 22-23 June, 2014. It brought together over 60 participants from health professions including experts from China, Qatar, the UK and USA as well as Kuwait.

The meeting was called because of the growing global problem of diabetes and TB and the need for urgent action to prevent the situation from becoming worse. Over 350 million people in the world are now living with diabetes and the number of people being disabled and dying from diabetes-associated causes is growing. Kuwait is one of the 10 most affected countries in the world. Globally tuberculosis is also on the increase again and in Geneva the World Health Organization has declared the situation a global emergency and appealed to governments to take action.

The experts discussed the relationship between diabetes and tuberculosis and concluded that the evidence from many countries confirms that people living with diabetes are three to four times more likely to develop tuberculosis than other people. The implications of this double burden are enormous for the patients concerned, their families and the health care systems in the countries they live in. The number of work days lost and the impact on family life is far-reaching, and the cost of treatment is escalating.

If action is not taken quickly the combination of these two diseases could easily threaten the development of countries, including Kuwait. In view of the seriousness of the emerging situation the experts recommended that diabetes and tuberculosis specialists in Kuwait should immediately begin to work more closely together to share information and develop new and common strategies to fight these diseases.

They recommended that Dasman Diabetes Institute and the Ministry of Health should help develop guidelines and standard operating procedures that can be followed by all medical staff dealing with diabetes and tuberculosis. They specifically asked Dasman Diabetes Institute to develop research initiatives that encompass the basic science, clinical management, and public health aspects of the problem, and specifically asked Dasman Diabetes Institute to immediately assess how big of a problem Kuwait is faced with and how best to intervene to prevent it from becoming worse in the surrounding regions as well as in Kuwait. In this regard they commended the growing international prominence of Dasman Diabetes Institute and the fact that it has recently been designated as the GCC Referral Centre for diabetes.