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Open Access Opportunities to prevent and manage undernutrition to amplify efforts to end TB

This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

The bidirectional relationship between TB and nutrition is well recognized – primary undernutrition is a risk factor for developing TB disease, while TB results in wasting. Although nutrition support is acknowledged as an important intervention in TB programmes, it is seldom afforded commensurate priority for action. TB incidence and deaths worldwide are falling too slowly to meet WHO End TB Strategy milestones, and the number of undernourished people is increasing, likely to be further exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Undernutrition needs to be more urgently and intensively addressed. This is especially true for the WHO South-East Asia Region, where the high rates of undernutrition are a key driver of the TB epidemic. The evidence base has been sufficiently robust for clear and workable programmatic guidance to be formulated on assessment, counselling and interventions for TB patients. Many high-burden countries have developed policies addressing TB and nutrition. Gaps in research to date have frustrated the development of more refined programmatic approaches related to addressing TB and malnutrition. Future research can be shaped to inform targeted, actionable policies and programmes delivering dual benefits in terms of undernutrition and TB. There are clear opportunities for policy-makers to amplify efforts to end TB by addressing undernutrition.

Keywords: infectious disease medicine; nutrition policy; public health

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: 1: The Boden Collaboration on Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia 2: Tuberculosis Unit, World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi, India 3: Nutrition and Health for Development Unit, World Health Organization Regional Office for South-East Asia, New Delhi, India

Publication date: January 1, 2022

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