Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in South Africa: socioeconomic disadvantage and associated complications

  • Mary Duro
  • Gomolemo Moshodi
  • Amélia Sarmento
  • Cristina Almeida


Background: The prevalence of type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM) has been rapidly increasing worldwide. The situation in South Africa is worsening, as the population moves into a more urbanized way of life. Objectives: To analyze the prevalence of T2DM in South Africa: causes and side effects on health and economy. Methods: Review of recent research, consulting Pubmed, Google Shcolar, oficial sources from governments, the World Health Organization, American Diabetes Association and the International Diabetes Federation. Results: Despite in South Africa the reported numbers may still be undervalued due to the failure of health care and diagnosis, there has been a rapid increase in T2DM, resulting in associated health complications and economic costs. Diabetes is contributing to increase physical disability (lower-extremity amputations), mortality and poverty. Conclusions: Lack of healthcare access results in poor diabetes control among low income populations of South Africa, particularly in rural areas. A strategy that prioritizes health education crossing general population seems to be the best approach for a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of diabetes in order to contribute to an early diagnosis and treatment, minimizing health risks.