Background: Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is a growing epidemic and the cost of treating diabetes is largely increasing. The objective of this study was to estimate the cost-of-illness of DM among attendees of out-patient clinics in Karachi, Pakistan. This is the first study conducted from a societal perspective to estimate the cost of managing diabetes in Pakistan.
Methods: A prevalence-based 'Cost-of-Illness' study for diabetes care was conducted in six different out-patient clinics of Karachi, Pakistan from July to September 2006. A pre-tested questionnaire was administered to collect the data from 345 randomly selected persons with diabetes.
Results: The annual mean direct cost for each person with diabetes was estimated to be Pakistani rupees 11,580 (US$ 197). Medicines accounted for the largest share of direct cost (46%), followed by laboratory investigations (32%). We found that increased age, the number of complications and longer duration of the disease significantly increase the burden of cost on society (p < 0.001). Comparing cost with family income it was found that the poorest segment of society is spending 18% of total family income on diabetes care.
Conclusion: This study concluded that substantial expenditure is incurred by people with diabetes; with the implication that resources could be saved by prevention, earlier detection and a reduction in diabetes co-morbidities and complications through improved diabetes care. Large scale and cost-effective prevention programs need to be initiated to maximise health gains and to reverse the advance of this epidemic.