Diabetes in the Africa Region: an update

Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2014 Feb;103(2):197-205. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2013.11.006. Epub 2013 Dec 1.


The Africa Region (AFR), where diabetes was once rare, has witnessed a surge in the condition. Estimates for type 1 diabetes suggest that about 39,000 people suffer from the disease in 2013 with 6.4 new cases occurring per year per 100,000 people in children <14 years old. Type 2 diabetes prevalence among 20-79-year-olds is 4.9% with the majority of people with diabetes <60 years old; the highest proportion (43.2%) is in those aged 40-59 years. Figures are projected to increase with the numbers rising from 19.8 million in 2013 to 41.5 million in 2035, representing a 110% absolute increase. There is an apparent increase in diabetes prevalence with economic development in AFR with rates of 4.4% in low-income, 5.0% in lower-middle income and 7.0% in upper-middle income countries. In addition to development and increases in life-expectancy, the likely progression of people at high risk for the development of type 2 diabetes will drive the expected rise of the disease. This includes those with impaired glucose tolerance, the prevalence of which is 7.3% among 20-79-year-olds in 2013. Mortality attributable to diabetes in 2013 in AFR is expected to be over half a million with three-quarter of these deaths occurring in those <60 years old. The prevalence of undiagnosed diabetes remains unacceptably high at 50.7% and is much higher in low income (75.1%) compared to lower- and upper-middle income AFR countries (46.0%). This highlights the inadequate response of local health systems which need to provide accessible, affordable and optimal care for diabetes.

Keywords: Africa; Complications; Diabetes mellitus; Incidence; Prevalence; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Income
  • Life Expectancy / trends
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult