Individual, social
and economic impact

Diabetes affects the health of individuals, societies and economies

Diabetes increases the risk of early death. IDF estimates that approximately 4.2 million adults will die as a result of diabetes and its complications in 2019. This is equivalent to one death every eight seconds.

Diabetes increases the risk of health complications

Diabetes has the potential to cause numerous debilitating health complications. Most often, complications are the result of an unmanaged or poorly managed diabetes. However, people with appropriate diabetes management are also at risk of developing complications.

Half of the 463 million adults living with diabetes today are unaware that they have the condition, and are therefore at high risk of developing serious diabetes-related complications.

Globally, 11.3% of deaths are due to diabetes. Almost half of these deaths are in people under 60 years of age.

Acute diabetes complications

Acute, or short-term, diabetes complications, resulting from extremes of blood glucose levels, are common in type 1 diabetes and can also occur, when certain medications are used, in type 2 and other forms of diabetes. These can lead to permanent illness or even death.

Chronic complications of diabetes

Chronic, or long-term, complications of diabetes may already be present in people with type 2 diabetes by the time they are diagnosed. They can also appear soon after the onset of type 1 diabetes. Early detection and appropriate treatment are essential to prevent disability and death.

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Economic and social impact

Diabetes also imposes a significant economic impact on countries, health systems and – when healthcare must be funded 'out-of-pocket' – on people with diabetes and their families. Read more

Direct costs

IDF estimates the annual global health expenditure on diabetes at USD 760 billion. It is projected that these direct costs will reach USD 825 billion by 2030 and USD 845 billion by 2045.

The costs of treating complications account for over 50% of the direct health costs of diabetes. For example, management of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) is a considerable part of the cost to a country's health system: treatment of a single DKA episode in the United Kingdom costs an estimated GBP 1,387 (around USD 1,750).

Indirect costs

Premature death, disability and other health complications due to diabetes are also associated with a negative economic impact for countries. It is estimated that these so-called 'indirect costs' of diabetes add an additional 35% to the annual global health expenditures associated with the condition.

Sources of indirect costs include labour-force drop out, mortality, absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity when at work). Of these, the first two dominate the global picture comprising 49% and 46% of all indirect costs, respectively.

Intangible costs

For people living with diabetes, concerns about managing the condition and fears of future complications and their potential impact on quality of life, are significant contributors to the intangible costs of diabetes. These include worry, anxiety, discomfort, pain, loss of independence and a host of other crucially important features of living with diabetes.

Tips for advocates: Establishing partnerships and identifying key advocacy priorities

Voices are more influential when they speak together – and advocates are more efficient when working jointly.

We recommend you start exploring alliances within the diabetes community, by talking to other people living with diabetes and their carers, healthcare professionals, and your local or national diabetes association. Search for allies in organisations working on some of the diabetes-related complications you have read about above, such as cardiovascular and kidney disease. You can also search for collaborators in networks of young or older people, organisations of scientists and healthcare professionals, and other civil society groups.

By joining forces with other stakeholders, you can pinpoint unifying advocacy priorities that you can work towards together.

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