Cost of diabetes mellitus in Africa: A systematic review of existing literature

C. Mutyambizi*, M. Pavlova, L. Chola, C. Hongoro, W. Groot

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: There is an increasing recognition that non communicable diseases impose large economic costs on households, societies and nations. However, not much is known about the magnitude of diabetes expenditure in African countries and to the best of our knowledge no systematic assessment of the literature on diabetes costs in Africa has been conducted. The aim of this paper is to capture the evidence on the cost of diabetes in Africa, review the methods used to calculate costs and identify areas for future research. Methods: A desk search was conducted in Pubmed, Medline, Embase, and Science direct as well as through other databases, namely Google Scholar. The following eligibility criteria were used: peer reviewed English articles published between 2006 and 2016, articles that reported original research findings on the cost of illness in diabetes, and studies that covered at least one African country. Information was extracted using two data extraction sheets and results organized in tables. Costs presented in the studies under review are converted to 2015 international dollars prices (I$). Results: Twenty six articles are included in this review. Annual national direct costs of diabetes differed between countries and ranged from I$3.5 billion to I$4.5 billion per annum. Indirect costs per patient were generally higher than the direct costs per patient of diabetes. Outpatient costs varied by study design, data source, perspective and healthcare cost categories included in the total costs calculation. The most commonly included healthcare items were drug costs, followed by diagnostic costs, medical supply or disposable costs and consultation costs. In studies that reported both drug costs and total costs, drug costs took a significant portion of the total costs per patient. The highest burden due to the costs associated with diabetes was reported in individuals within the low income group. Conclusion: Estimation of the costs associated with diabetes is crucial to make progress towards meeting the targets laid out in Sustainable Development Goal 3 set for 2030. The studies included in this review show that the presence of diabetes leads to elevated costs of treatment which further increase in the presence of complications. The cost of drugs generally contributed the most to total direct costs of treatment. Various methods are used in the estimation of diabetes healthcare costs and the costs estimated between countries differ significantly. There is room to improve transparency and make the methodologies used standard in order to allow for cost comparisons across studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3
Number of pages13
JournalGlobalization and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2018

JEL classifications

  • i11 - Analysis of Health Care Markets
  • i18 - "Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health"


  • Africa
  • Cost of illness
  • Diabetes
  • Economic burden
  • Healthcare costs
  • consultation cost
  • cost of illness
  • diabetes mellitus
  • diagnostic cost
  • disposable cost
  • drug cost
  • health care cost
  • human
  • incidence
  • insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • lowest income group
  • non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Note
  • prevalence
  • priority journal
  • systematic review
  • CARE
  • Humans
  • Cost of Illness
  • Diabetes Mellitus/economics
  • Health Care Costs

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