Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a diverse group of metabolic disorders that is often associated with a high disease burden in developing countries such as Nigeria. In the early nineties, not much was known about DM in Nigeria and traditionally, people related DM to "curses" or "hexes" and diagnosis was made based on blood or urinary tests for glucose. Currently, oral hypoglycaemic agents but not insulin are readily accessible and acceptable to persons with DM. The cost of diabetes care is borne in most instances by individuals and often payment is "out of pocket"-this being a sequel of a poorly functional national health insurance scheme. An insulin requiring individual on a minimum wage would spend 29% of his monthly income on insulin. Complementary and alternative medicines are widely used by persons with DM and form an integral component of DM care. Towards reducing the burden of DM in Nigeria, we suggest that there be concerted efforts by healthcare professionals and stakeholders in the health industry to put in place preventative measures, a better functioning health insurance scheme and a structured DM program.
Keywords: Burden; Costs; Diabetes mellitus; Insulin; Prevalence.