Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa: from clinical care to health policy.

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Rapid demographic, sociocultural, and economic transitions are driving increases in the risk and prevalence of diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in sub-Saharan Africa. The impacts of these transitions and their health and economic consequences are evident. Whereas, in 1990, the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan Africa were HIV/AIDS, lower respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, malaria, and vaccine-preventable diseases in children, in more recent years, cardiovascular diseases and their risk factors are replacing infectious diseases as the leading causes of death in this region, and rates of increase of cardiovascular risk factors are predicted to be greater in sub-Saharan Africa than in other parts of the world. Thus, sub-Saharan Africa—which contains a high proportion of the world's least developed countries—will face the multifaceted challenge of dealing with a high burden of infectious diseases and diseases of poverty, while also addressing the increasing burden of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. At present, many of the health systems in sub-Saharan Africa struggle to cope with infectious diseases. Meeting the goals of the UN high-level meeting on NCDs (to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by 25% by 2025) and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs; to reduce premature mortality from NCDs by a third by 2030) requires a coordinated approach within countries, which starts with a firm consideration of disease burden, needs, and priorities.


Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology