In 2011, 14.7 million adults in the Africa Region are estimated to have diabetes, with a regional prevalence of 3.8%. The range of prevalence (%) figures between countries reflects the rapid transition communities in the region are facing. The highest prevalence of diabetes in the Africa Region is in the island of Réunion (16.3 %), followed by Seychelles (12.4%), Botswana (11.1%) and Gabon (10.6%). Some of Africa’s most populous countries also have the highest number of people with diabetes, with Nigeria having the largest number (3.0 million), followed by South Africa (1.9 million), Ethiopia (1.4 million), and Kenya (769,000). The top six countries with the highest number of people with diabetes make up just over half of the total number in the region.
Children in the region with type 1 diabetes often go undiagnosed. Even if diagnosed, few have sufficient access to insulin, syringes, and monitoring equipment and die as a result. This early mortality plays a significant role in the low prevalence of type 1 diabetes in the region.
Although only 6.1% of all deaths in the Africa Region can be attributed to diabetes, a staggering 72.8% of those deaths occurred in people under the age of 60. Furthermore, there were more than twice as many deaths in women from diabetes compared to men. This is in part because men are more likely to die from other causes.
Estimates for the Africa Region indicate that at least USD 2.8 billion was spent on healthcare due to diabetes in 2011. This expenditure due to diabetes is expected to rise by 61% by 2030, whereas the prevalence of diabetes is projected to almost double in the same time period. Currently, the Africa Region has the lowest total healthcare expenditures due to diabetes of any of the IDF Regions. Therefore, a doubling in the prevalence without a matched increase in expenditures will almost certainly adversely affect diabetes-related care.
The number of data sources examining the prevalence of diabetes in adults in the region has substantially increased in recent years. For this edition of the IDF Diabetes Atlas, 52 sources from 27 countries were considered, with a total of 21 sources selected from 19 countries. However, data for estimating the numbers of children with type 1 diabetes are still very scarce. There is a great need for further epidemiological investigation and improvement of data collection systems in the region. This need is partly reflected in the high proportion of diabetes that is undiagnosed and found only at the time of surveying.