Many low- and middle-income countries facing high levels of antimicrobial resistance, and the associated morbidity from ineffective treatment, also have a high burden of tuberculosis. Over recent decades many countries have developed effective laboratory and information systems for tuberculosis control. In this paper we describe how existing tuberculosis laboratory systems can be expanded to accommodate antimicrobial resistance functions. We show how such expansion in services may benefit tuberculosis case-finding and laboratory capacity through integration of laboratory services. We further summarize the synergies between high-level strategies on tuberculosis and antimicrobial resistance control. These provide a potential platform for the integration of programmes and illustrate how integration at the health-service delivery level for diagnostic services could occur in practice in a low- and middle-income setting. Many potential mutual benefits of integration exist, in terms of accelerated scale-up of diagnostic testing towards rational use of antimicrobial drugs as well as optimal use of resources and sharing of experience. Integration of vertical disease programmes with separate funding streams is not without challenges, however, and we also discuss barriers to integration and identify opportunities and incentives to overcome these.
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