Considering connections between chronic and infectious diseases

Convergence of chronic and infectious diseases: a new direction in public health policy. Badawi A*, Drebot M*, Ogden NH*. Can J Public Health 2019 Aug;110(4):523-4 doi:

This science story points to a National Microbiology Laboratory penned letter to the editor that highlights the need for more knowledge on the interrelationship between chronic and infectious diseases. Improved understanding of this relationship can lead to more collaborative efforts and enhanced public health approaches to address both infectious and chronic diseases affecting Canadians and the global public health community.

What was known about this area prior to your work, and why was the research done?

Chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers are the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in many parts of the world. These chronic diseases often coexist with endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, HIV and vector-borne diseases. In fact, a number of infectious pathogens have been identified as causal of chronic diseases, and research suggests that having a chronic disease influences a person’s susceptibility to, and the severity of infectious disease. This letter to the editor underlines the importance of examining the relationship between these two disease states to help target public health approaches.

What are your most significant findings from this work?

This letter to the editor highlights the need for evidence-based information on the convergence between chronic and infectious diseases. It also emphasizes the public health value in developing approaches that consider the connection between both chronic and infectious diseases. In doing so, public health can better protect against the dual burden of both these disease states. For instance, assessing common risk factors and population vulnerability can enable improved identification of high-risk groups, and the development of innovative public health methods to reduce risk.

What are the implications or impact of the research?

Addressing the convergence of chronic and infectious diseases provides public health with an opportunity to develop additional policies, strategies and public health practices that target the interrelationship of chronic and infectious diseases. Working collaboratively to examine some public health activities in infectious and chronic diseases can enhance capacity in public health risk assessment, surveillance, health promotion, and prevention and control. The development of a holistic public health approach could effectively facilitate monitoring and targeting of populations vulnerable to both diseases (alone and combined). Ultimately, addressing this convergence could lead to enhanced control of infectious conditions known to be exacerbated by chronic comorbidities, as well as chronic diseases resulting from infectious disorders.

Additional References of Significance:

  • Badawi A*, Velummailum R, Ryoo SG et al. Prevalence of chronic comorbidities in dengue fever and West Nile virus: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One 2018 Jul;13(7):e0200200. doi:
  • Badawi A*, Ryoo SG, Vasileva D, Yaghoubi S. Prevalence of chronic comorbidities in chikungunya: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Infect Dis 2018 Feb;67:107–13. doi:
  • Badawi A*, Di Guiseppe G, Arora P. Cardiovascular disease risk in patients with hepatitis C infection: Results from two general population health surveys in Canada and the United States (2007-2017). PLoS One 2018 Dec 12;13(12):e0208839. doi:
  • Badawi A*, Sayegh S, Sallam M, et al. The global relationship between the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and incidence of tuberculosis: 2000-2012. Global J Health Sci 2014 Oct 28;7(2):183-91. doi:

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