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Open Access Research article

Assessment of the direct medical costs of diabetes mellitus and its complications in the United Arab Emirates

Fatma Al-Maskari*, Mohammed El-Sadig and Nicholas Nagelkerke

Author Affiliations

Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University, Al-Ain, P.O. Box: 17666, United Arab Emirates

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BMC Public Health 2010, 10:679  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-679

Published: 8 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a major health problem in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is well recognized as a major and increasing burden to the country's resources due to its severe, long term debilitating effects on individuals, families and the society at large. The aim of the study was to estimate the direct annual treatment costs of DM and its related complications among patients in Al-Ain city, UAE.

Methods

A sample of 150 DM patients were enrolled during 2004-2005, and their medical costs over the ensuing 12 months was measured, quantified, analyzed and extrapolated to the population in Al-Ain and UAE, using conventional and inference statistics. The costs were converted from UAE Dirhams to US Dollar, using the official conversion rate of US$ (1 USD = 3.68 AED).

Results

The total annual direct treatment costs of DM among patients without complications in Al Ain-UAE, was US $1,605 (SD = 1,206) which is 3.2 times higher than the per capita expenditure for health care in the UAE (US$ 497) during 2004 (WHO, 2004). However, this cost increased 2.2 times with the presence of DM related complications for patients with microvascular complications, by 6.4 times for patients with macrovascular complications and 9.4 times for patients with both micro and macrovascular complications. Likewise, the annual direct hospitalization costs of DM patients increased by 3.7 times for patients with microvascular complications, by 6.6 times for patients with macrovascular complications and by 5 times for patients with both micro and macrovascualr complications. Overall, costs increased with age, diabetes duration and were higher for patients treated with insulin compared to those treated with oral hypoglycemic agents or with diet control only.

Conclusions

DM direct treatment costs increased with the presence and progression of chronic DM related complications. Hospitalisation costs constituted a large proportion and were increasingly higher with the presence and progression of DM related complications. To reduce the impact on healthcare resources, efforts should be made to prevent progression to DM complications, by implementing guidelines for diabetes care, screening for complications and better management.