Middle East and North Africa

Middle East and North Africa at a Glance
Total population (millions) 617 848
Adult population (20-79 years, millions) 344 533
Diabetes and IGT (20-79 years)    
Regional prevalence (%) 7.7 9.7
Comparative prevalence (%) 9.3 10.8
Number of people with diabetes (millions) 26.6 51.7
Regional prevalence (%) 7.1 8.1
Comparative prevalence (%) 8.2 8.9
Number of people with IGT (millions) 24.4 43.1
Type 1 diabetes (0-14 years)    
Number of children with type 1 diabetes (thousands) 54.4  
Number of newly-diagnosed cases per year (thousands) 9.1  
Diabetes mortality (20-79 years)    
Number of deaths, male (thousands) 117.0  
Number of deaths, female (thousands) 177.0  
Health expenditure for diabetes (USD)    
Total health expenditure, R=2, (billions) 5.6 11.4

Six countries in the Middle East and North African Region are among the world’s 10 highest for diabetes prevalence and a similar situation applies for the IGT prevalence. These countries are Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The ageing of populations, together with socio-economic and lifestyle changes, has resulted in the dramatic increase in diabetes prevalence.

Over the past three decades, major social and economic changes have occurred in the majority of these nations. These include progressive urbanization, decreasing infant mortality and increasing life expectancy. Rapid economic development, especially among the more wealthy oil-producing countries, has been associated with tremendous modification in lifestyle towards the westernized pattern reflected by changes in nutrition, less physical activity, tendency to increased obesity and more smoking 1   2 .

Diabetes and IGT prevalence

The explosion of diabetes in the MENA Region is mainly due to type 2 diabetes. As with many other countries with high diabetes prevalence, the onset of type 2 diabetes tends to occur at a relatively young age. An estimated 26.6 million people, or 7.7% of the adult population, will have diabetes in 2010, with the number expected to nearly double in the next 20 years. Similarly, the number of people with IGT is also expected to rise markedly by 2030, raising the likelihood of further increases in the prevalence of diabetes as the century proceeds.

Reliable data for type 1 diabetes in children were also available in a number of countries in this region. By far the largest contribution to the total number of children with type 1 diabetes comes from Egypt whose estimates accounts for almost a quarter of the region’s total of 54,000 cases. The range of reported incidence varies from 22.3 per 100,000 aged 0-14 years per year in Kuwait to less than 1 per 100,000 aged 0-14 years in Pakistan (see Data Tables).


Diabetes is the expected cause of some 290,000 deaths in this region, which will account for 11.5% of all deaths in the 20-79 age group in 2010. More women than men are expected to die from diabetes-related causes. In the 50-59 age group, mortality attributable to diabetes in women accounts for more than 20% of all deaths (see Figure 3.3).

Healthcare expenditure

In spite of the high estimates of diabetes prevalence in the MENA Region, the total healthcare expenditure for diabetes is expected to be only USD5.6 billion for the whole region. This is projected to account for only 1.5% of global spending. People with diabetes in the 50-59 age group are expected to incur the highest costs.

National Diabetes Programmes

A high percentage (80%) of countries that responded to the IDF member association survey indicated the existence of a national diabetes programme. In the majority of these countries, the NDP had been implemented. Primary prevention as well as screening and early diagnosis are important areas of focus in many of the NDPs in this region of extremely high diabetes prevalence. At the same time, NDPs monitored community awareness, and the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in their efforts to deal with the diabetes burden.


Map 3.3 Prevalence (%) estimates of diabetes (20-79 years) 2010, Middle East and North African Region

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1: Arab M. The economics of diabetes care in the Middle East. In Alberti K, Zimmet P, Defronzo R, editors. International Textbook of Diabetes Mellitus. Second Edition. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons Ltd; 1997.

2: World Bank. World Bank Data, WHO parameters, 1999-2000. World Bank; 2000.