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Economic Impact of Diabetes in Africa

  • Economics and Policy in Diabetes (AA Baig and N Laiteerapong, Section Editors)
  • Published:
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Purpose of Review

This review seeks to address knowledge gaps around the economic burden of diabetes in Africa. Africa is home to numerous endemic infections and also prevalent non-communicable diseases including diabetes. It is projected that the greatest increases in diabetes prevalence will occur in Africa. The importance of this review therefore lies in providing adequate knowledge on the economic challenges that diabetes poses to the continent and describe the way forward in tackling this epidemic.

Recent Findings

Diabetes contributes to a huge amount of the global health expenditure in the world. There is a dearth of information on the economic burden of diabetes in Africa with very limited number of studies in the area. Predictions do show that Africa has the greatest predicted increase in both the burden of diabetes and associated diabetic complications but yet contributes the lowest in the global annual healthcare expenses with regard to diabetes care. In 2017, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimated the total health expenditure due to diabetes at $3.3 billion. In Nigeria, the national annual direct costs of diabetes was estimated in the range of $1.071 billion to $1.639 billion per year while the estimated monthly direct medical costs per individual in Cameroon stands at $148. In Sudan, the direct cost of type 2 diabetes control was $175 per year which only included the cost of medications and ambulatory care. People with diabetes are likely to experience one or more chronic illness and a significant portion of the costs associated with these complications are attributed to the underlying diabetes.


The growing epidemics of diabetes and associated diabetic complications worldwide poses catastrophic financial costs, especially in Africa where most of the expenses are paid by patients and families. The most common method used for the estimation of the economic burden of a public health problem like diabetes is the cost-of-illness approach. Cost-of-illness studies traditionally divide costs into three categories: direct, indirect, and intangible. The IDF estimated the total health expenditure due to diabetes at $3.3 billion worldwide in 2017. Most of the existing studies in Africa estimated only the direct costs. The medical direct cost of type 1 diabetes was higher than type 2. However, the estimations of costs of diabetes in many countries in Africa may be underestimated due to absence of data on the relative contribution of cost of diabetes complications.

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Correspondence to Jean Claude Mbanya.

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Clarisse Mapa Tassou, Jean-Claude Katte, Camille Mba Maadjhou, and Jean Claude Mbanya declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Mapa-Tassou, C., Katte, JC., Mba Maadjhou, C. et al. Economic Impact of Diabetes in Africa. Curr Diab Rep 19, 5 (2019).

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