Diabetes and its complications - such as strokes and heart disease - will place an enormous financial burden on poorer countries in years to come, researchers warned in a report published on Tuesday.
"Diabetes is moving from being a disease of developed countries to a disease in developing countries like India and China, and this could put pressure on healthcare systems through rising healthcare costs," said Philip Clarke, associate professor at University of Sydney's School of Public Health.
Clarke and his colleagues examined records of 11,140 patients with severe diabetes in 20 countries, including the complications they suffered, money spent and length of hospital stays; and they found diabetes hit healthcare costs more severely in poorer countries.
"Patients in Asia and Eastern Europe had higher incidence of some events (eg. stroke) than patients in established market economies, lower rates of hospitalization and longer lengths of stay," according to the report.
While average per capita spending on healthcare in China was around US$216 a year, health expenditure for a diabetic who ends up with stroke would be 10 times more, or $2,166, according to the study, which was published in the latest issue of PLoS Medicine.