Objectives: To estimate the burden of disease attributable to diabetes by sex and age group in South Africa in 2000.
Design: The framework adopted for the most recent World Health Organization comparative risk assessment (CRA) methodology was followed. Small community studies used to derive the prevalence of diabetes by population group were weighted proportionately for a national estimate. Population-attributable fractions were calculated and applied to revised burden of disease estimates. Monte Carlo simulation-modelling techniques were used for uncertainty analysis.
Setting: South Africa.
Subjects: Adults 30 years and older.
Outcome measures: Mortality and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for ischaemic heart disease (IHD), stroke, hypertensive disease and renal failure.
Results: Of South Africans aged >or= 30 years, 5.5% had diabetes which increased with age. Overall, about 14% of IHD, 10% of stroke, 12% of hypertensive disease and 12% of renal disease burden in adult males and females (30+ years) were attributable to diabetes. Diabetes was estimated to have caused 22,412 (95% uncertainty interval 20,755 - 24,872) or 4.3% (95% uncertainty interval 4.0 - 4.8%) of all deaths in South Africa in 2000. Since most of these occurred in middle or old age, the loss of healthy life years comprises a smaller proportion of the total 258,028 DALYs (95% uncertainty interval 236,856 - 290,849) in South Africa in 2000, accounting for 1.6% (95% uncertainty interval 1.5 - 1.8%) of the total burden.
Conclusions: Diabetes is an important direct and indirect cause of burden in South Africa. Primary prevention of the disease through multi-level interventions and improved management at primary health care level are needed.