APO funds study into integrated care in Asia | Duke Kunshan University

APO funds study into integrated care in Asia

September 22, 2020

By DKU Staff

A research team including Duke Kunshan faculty Abu Abdullah and Qian Long has received US$75,000 to examine the systematic efficiencies in integrated public health and primary care for patients in Asia with both communicable and non-communicable diseases, specifically with tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes mellitus (DM) comorbidities.

The funding from the World Health Organization’s Asia-Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies (APO) will support an 18-month study in four countries: Bangladesh, China, Nepal and the Philippines.

The dual burden of TB and DM is a major global public health concern and a critical public health challenge in low- and middle-income countries. Evidence shows that an integrated health service for the two diseases can help improve responsiveness to patients’ needs, increase coverage, reduce inequalities, and improve health outcomes.

However, according to the research team’s principal investigator, Abu Abdullah, a behavioral scientist and professor of global health, many Asian countries provide services for TB and DM separately, despite the known synergy between these conditions.


DKU professors Abu Abdullah, left, and Qian Long

“No standardized system is in place for the provision of integrated public health and primary care services for patients suffering both from communicable and non-communicable diseases,” said Abdullah, who also is a research professor at the Duke Global Health Institute.

To address the issue, his team will review the health systems in Bangladesh, China, Nepal and the Philippines, all of which have high rates of TB and rising DM-related morbidity and mortality.

Abdullah and Long, assistant professor of global health, will collaborate with experts from the University of Philippines, the National University of Singapore, and Bangladesh’s National Heart Foundation Hospital and Research Institute.

For the study, the team will conduct situation analyses and qualitative studies to identify the factors that help or hinder the delivery of integrated care for TB and DM. They will also meet with stakeholders in health, public policy and other sectors to understand their perspectives on integrated services.

Researchers will use their findings to publish a WHO Policy Brief analyzing the health systems in terms of six building blocks – service delivery; health workforce; information; medical products, vaccines and technologies; financing; and leadership and governance – and summarize the health system policy options for Asia-Pacific countries.

By following the policy guidelines, countries in the region will be able to strengthen their health care delivery mechanisms to address the dual burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, said Abdullah.

“Through the project, we hope to inform agencies and policymakers on strategies for the integrated care of TB and DM within the existing health care delivery system, to help mitigate the growing double burden of these conditions in the region,” he added.