Cost of treating diabetes highest in the UAE: report

Researchers say global cost of treating adults with diabetes is more than $1.3 trillion

(NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

(NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images)

The per capita cost of treating diabetes in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar are amongst the highest in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to a new report.

The International Diabetes Federation (IDF) estimates on average 13.6 percent of the adult population between 20 and 79 years in the region have been diagnosed with diabetes, which is higher than the global average of 8.5 percent.

BMI Research, in its latest report, said Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar have one of the highest diabetes-related expenditure on a per capita basis, reported at $1,145; $2,156; and $2,868, respectively.

The burden of diabetes in each country -- measured in disability-adjusted life years -- is forecast to rise dramatically by 2030 in spite of improvements to healthcare and the introduction of more comprehensive health insurances schemes, it said, without giving any figures.

While no estimates are available on the total annual cost of treating diabetes in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Qatar’s Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed Al Kuwari said last year that $490 million (QR1.8bn) is being spent annually on treating diabetes and its complications, with the potential cost likely to soar to $1.35bn (QR4.9bn) by 2035.

Researchers from the Department of Economics and Centre for Modern Indian Studies at the University of Goettingen, Germany and Harvard Medical School in Boston, US, said this month that the cost of treating adults with diabetes worldwide has risen to more than $1.3 trillion.

According to BMI, a significant disparity exists between different countries’ healthcare systems within the MENA region, resulting in highly diverse health outcomes and consequently variable opportunities for drug makers.

Regardless of the size of the economy, diabetes is expensive to treat and is being targeted by prevention strategies as a consequence to the extent that the public are being encouraged to eat healthier diets, reduce smoking and exercise more.

“While this is the case in other emerging markets around the world, it is a particularly strong trend in the MENA region, as one of the greatest challenges in addressing diabetes is the reluctance of the population to accept that they are unhealthy; culturally, weight has long been associated with success and wealth,” the report said.

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