Diabetes and Poverty

Diabetes Cost and Poverty

  • Diabetes and poverty are inextricably intertwined: diabetes can cause poverty and poverty can cause diabetes. Diabetes is increasingly common among the poor and marginalized. The cost of treatment and/or loss of employment and income push vulnerable people and families deeper into the poverty cycle.1
  • Once people develop diabetes, health services in many developing countries are unable to provide effective care to control it and prevent its complications leading to premature death. A substantial proportion of household income among poor populations is spent on healthcare for a family member affected by diabetes.
  • The economic burden of treating diabetes and its complications for the families is considerable and has doubled from 1998 to 2005 with many diabetic subjects spending 25-35% of their annual income for diabetes management.
  • For example, the total median expenditure on diabetes care was Rs 10,000 ($227) in rural India where the annual income is Rs 36,000 ($818) rural India.2 The expenditure on diabetes care in urban India was Rs 36,000 ($818) whereas the income is Rs 100,000 ($2,273).2
  • Treatment costs increased with duration of diabetes, presence of complications, hospitalization, surgery, insulin therapy, and urban setting.
  • Diabetes leads to poverty in many cases as the cost of the medical care is very high relative to income and the medicines are not covered by insurance which is also very rare.2 Integrating diabetes care into primary healthcare and ensuring universal coverage for basic health interventions should therefore be given top priority.


1. http://www.idf.org/webdata/Call-to-Action-on-Diabetes.pdf. 2010 November. Accessed January 15,2011.

2. Ramachandran A, Ramachandran S, Snehalatha C, et al. Increasing expenditure on health care incurred by diabetic subjects in a developing country: a study from India. Diabetes Care. Feb 2007;30(2):252-256.

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