Cost-of-illness of type 2 diabetes mellitus in low and lower-middle income countries: a systematic review

BMC Health Serv Res. 2018 Dec 17;18(1):972. doi: 10.1186/s12913-018-3772-8.


Background: Diabetes is one of the world's most prevalent and serious non-communicable diseases (NCDs). It is a leading cause of death, disability and financial loss; moreover, it is identified as a major threat to global development. The chronic nature of diabetes and its related complications make it a costly disease. Estimating the total cost of an illness is a useful aid to national and international health policy decision making. The aim of this systematic review is to summarise the impact of the cost-of-illness of type 2 diabetes mellitus in low and lower-middle income countries, and to identify methodological gaps in measuring the cost-of-illness of type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Methods: This systematic review considers studies that reported the cost-of-illness of type 2 diabetes in subjects aged 18 years and above in low and lower-middle income countries. The search engines MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PSYCINFO and COCHRANE were used form date of their inception to September 2018. Two authors independently identified the eligible studies. Costs reported in the included studies were converted to US dollars in relation to the dates mentioned in the studies.

Results: The systematic search identified eight eligible studies conducted in low and lower-middle income countries. There was a considerable variation in the costs and method used in these studies. The annual average cost (both direct and indirect) per person for treating type 2 diabetes mellitus ranged from USD29.91 to USD237.38, direct costs ranged from USD106.53 to USD293.79, and indirect costs ranged from USD1.92 to USD73.4 per person per year. Hospitalization cost was the major contributor of direct costs followed by drug costs.

Conclusion: Type 2 diabetes mellitus imposes a considerable economic burden which most directly affects the patients in low and lower-middle income countries. There is enormous scope for adding research-based evidence that is methodologically sound to gain a more accurate estimation of cost and to facilitate comparison between studies.

Keywords: Cost-of-illness; Direct cost; Indirect cost; LMICs; Systematic review; Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Developing Countries / economics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / economics*
  • Disabled Persons
  • Drug Costs
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / economics
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Income
  • Middle Aged
  • Poverty
  • Social Problems
  • Young Adult


  • Hypoglycemic Agents