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Highlights from the latest IDF Diabetes Atlas

Every two years, the International Diabetes Federation releases a new Diabetes Atlas, in which they tell the world what the state of diabetes is in each country. Here are a few highlights from the 9th edition of the IDF Atlas.

IDF Diabetes Atlas

A comprehensive look at global diabetes

If you haven’t looked at the IDF Atlas, it’s well worth a read. It covers a range of topics related to diabetes before diving into region-specific details. These include:

  • What is diabetes?
  • Methods
  • Global picture
  • Diabetes by region
  • Diabetes complications and co-morbidities
  • Action on diabetes

Diabetes in Africa

Unsurprisingly, the diabetes statistics for Africa do not make for cheerful reading.

diabetes in africa
IDF africa statistics

South African diabetes statistics

South Africa tops the list of African countries in both prevalence and number of people with diabetes.

The highest age-adjusted comparative prevalence of diabetes in adults aged 20–79 years in the AFR Region is in South Africa (12.7%), followed by Seychelles (12.3%) and Comoros (12.3%). Some of the most populous countries in the AFR Region have the highest number of people with diabetes, including South Africa (4.6 million), Nigeria (2.7 million), Democratic Republic of Congo (1.8 million) and Ethiopia (1.7 million). More than half (55.8%) of all 20–79 year-old adults with diabetes in the Region live in one of these four countries.

IDF Diabetes Atlas 2019

There are a few surprising elements when it comes to South Africa, particularly for health expenditure:

In 2019, USD 9.5 billion was spent on diabetes-related health expenditure in the AFR Region. This is the second lowest of all seven IDF Regions, representing 1.2% of the total spent worldwide, despite the Region being home to 4.2% of people with diabetes…

Countries in the AFR Region with the largest percentage of health expenditure due to diabetes in 2019 are South Africa and Gabon where, respectively, 23.0% and 17.5% of the total health budget is spent on diabetes

IDF Diabetes Atlas 2019

The African region is also predicted to have the greatest increase in numbers of people living with Type 2 diabetes, and numbers of people living with impaired glucose tolerance (insulin resistance). This is in line with the prediabetes stats in South Africa we have already seen.

The way forward for diabetes in South Africa

While the IDF Atlas may paint a bleak picture of diabetes in South Africa, we can choose to see it as an opportunity: to recognise that there is a huge problem at the moment, particularly when it comes to undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes, and join our voices together to do something about it.

If we work together, future versions of the Diabetes Atlas will be able to reflect a more positive outcome for diabetes in South Africa.

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Sweet Life is a registered NPO/PBO (220-984) with a single goal: to improve diabetes in South Africa. We are funded by sponsorships and donations from aligned companies and organisations who believe in our work. We only share information that we believe benefits our community. While some of this information is linked to specific brands, it is not an official endorsement of that brand. We believe in empowering people with diabetes to make the best decisions they can, to live a healthy, happy life with diabetes.