South and Central America

South and Central America at a Glance
Total population (millions)
Adult population (20-79 years, millions)
Diabetes and IGT(20-79 years)
Regional prevalence (%)
Comparative prevalence (%)
Number of people with diabetes (millions)
Regional prevalence (%)
Comparative prevalence (%)
Number of people with IGT (millions)
Type 1 diabetes (0-14 years)
Number of children with type 1 diabetes (thousands)
Number of newly-diagnosed cases per year (thousands)
Diabetes mortality (20 - 79 years)
Number of deaths, male (thousands)
Number of deaths, female (thousands)
Health expenditure for diabetes (USD)
Total health expenditure, R=2, (billions) 8.1 13.2

The South and Central American Region encompasses 20 countries and territories, most of which are still developing economically. South America and Central America have similar age distribution profiles to each other. About 20% of the population will be older than 50 years in 2010, with this figure likely to increase to 28% by 2030. Thus the region has a markedly younger age distribution than most of North America. As urbanization continues and populations age, diabetes will become an even greater public priority in this region.

Diabetes and IGT prevalence

An estimated 18 million people, or 6.3% of the adult population, will have diabetes in 2010. In the following 20 years, the number of people with diabetes is expected to rise by more than 60% to almost 30 million. In addition, current estimates indicate a further 21.2 million people, or 7.4 % of the adult population, will have IGT in 2010. There is a need for further epidemiological studies in this region as considerable extrapolation to obtain prevalence estimates was required. Only seven countries have any epidemiological data from which prevalence estimates could be derived.

Although the incidence of type 1 diabetes in children in the SACA Region is generally low, there are some sharp contrasts between the rates in neighbouring countries (see Appendix 1). A strong inverse ecological correlation has been reported in this region between a country’s incidence rate and the proportion of its population that is Amerindian (indigenous). This has influenced the selection of countries to use for extrapolation, but the choice still can make a considerable difference to the resulting estimate. The Brazilian estimate accounts for 70% of the region’s total of some 37,000 children.


Although the number of excess deaths due to diabetes is lowest in this region compared to other regions, it nonetheless accounts for 9.5% of all deaths in the 20-79 age group. More than 170,000 men and women are expected to die from diabetes-related causes in 2010. Diabetes-related events are expected to be the cause of death in about 17% of all deaths in women in the 50-59 age group (See Figure 3.5).

Healthcare expenditure

Expenditure on diabetes and its complications is estimated at USD8.1 billion in the SACA Region, accounting for about 2% of the global total. Almost 30% of that spending is expected to be for people with diabetes in the 50-59 age group.

National Diabetes Programmes

More than half of the countries that responded to the IDF member association survey on national diabetes programmes reported that they had a NDP. All of these countries also indicated that it was being implemented. Screening and early diagnosis as well coronary vascular disease complications were among the important topics addressed by the NDPs. The programmes were also concerned with community awareness of diabetes, and essential medicines and supplies.

Map 3.5 Prevalence (%) estimates of diabetes (20-79 years), 2010, South and Central American Region

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