Diabetes, a lifelong illness that affects all the body’s systems, is present in majority of Pakistan’s population. Affecting over 19 million adults in Pakistan, diabetes is a costly disease in terms of both human life and health costs.
If someone in your house has diabetes or high blood pressure, you’re most likely spending 120% more money on healthcare than someone without a family member with diabetes or blood pressure.
A research published in the International Journal for Equity in Health in January revealed that the healthcare expenditure for households with diabetes is 60% higher than those without.
“We find that households in Pakistan that spend on blood pressure and/or diabetes medication, are more likely to incur catastrophic health expenditure,” said the authors of the study.
Catastrophic health expenditure, as the name suggests, is the out-of-pocket money a household spends on medical expenses which exceeds 10% of the total household spending.
The study analysed self-reported blood pressure and diabetes medication expenditure of 24,238 households from the Household Integrated Economic Survey (2015-16). This included the costs for blood pressure pills, diabetes medication and insulin injections.
It also found that one in every four households (25.4%) was paying out-of-pocket for diabetes and blood pressure medicines.
Another research published in Current Diabetes Reports in May showed that the total annual costs for diabetes care in South Asia ranges from $483 to $2,637 per patient.
The International Diabetes Federation’s annual report highlights that Pakistan has the third largest share (19.7%) of health expenditure related to diabetes in the Middle East and North Africa Region.
These studies emphasise how necessary it is to have policies for universal health coverage for diabetes care and how such coverage can help reduce the financial burden on affected families.