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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Prevalence and complications of diabetes mellitus in Northern Africa, a systematic review

Manouk Bos and Charles Agyemang*

Author Affiliations

Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22660, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:387  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-387

Published: 25 April 2013



Diabetes is increasingly becoming a major chronic disease burden all over the world. This requires a shift in healthcare priorities and up-to-date data on the epidemiology and impact of diabetes in all regions of the world to help plan and prioritize health programs. We systematically reviewed the literature on diabetes prevalence and its complications in the UN sub region of Northern Africa including Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, South Sudan and Western Sahara.


A systematic literature review of papers published on diabetes prevalence and complications in North Africa from January 1990 to July 2012. Literature searches were conducted using electronic databases.


Diabetes prevalence ranged from 2.6% in rural Sudan to 20.0% in urban Egypt. Diabetes prevalence was significantly higher in urban areas than in rural areas. Undiagnosed diabetes is common in Northern Africa with a prevalence ranging from 18% to 75%. The prevalence of chronic diabetes complications ranged from 8.1% to 41.5% for retinopathy, 21% to 22% for albuminuria, 6.7% to 46.3% for nephropathy and 21.9% to 60% for neuropathy.


Diabetes is an important and common health problem in Northern Africa. Variations in prevalence of diabetes between individual countries are observed. Chronic complications of diabetes are common. Urgent measures are needed to prevent diabetes and its related complications in Northern Africa.

Type 2 diabetes; Diabetes complications; North Africa