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Prevalence of wheeze and self-reported asthma and asthma care in an urban and rural area of Tanzania and Cameroon

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Louise HayesORCiD, Professor Nigel Unwin, Dr David Whiting, Dr Eugene Sobngwi


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We investigated the prevalence of wheeze, self-reported asthma, and asthma care via four cross-sectional surveys among adults and children (5-15 years) in urban and rural populations from Tanzania and Cameroon. Age-standardized prevalence of current wheeze (in the previous year) was 2.2% to 5.0% in adults and 1.9% to 5.2% in children in Tanzania, and 1.3% to 2.5% (adults) and 0.8% to 5.4% (children) in Cameroon. There were no consistent patterns of urban: rural prevalence. Peak flow rates varied with age, peaking at 25-34 years, and were higher in urban areas (age adjusted difference 22-70 L/min) and in the Tanzania populations. Awareness (83%-86% versus 52%-58%) and treatment (43%-71% versus 30%-44%) of asthma was higher among those with current wheeze in rural areas. Use of inhaled drugs, particularly steroids, was rare. Diagnosis by traditional healers (15%) and use of traditional remedies (62% of those recalling any treatment) were common only among self-reported asthmatic patients in rural Cameroon. Asthma is an important clinical condition in sub-Saharan Africa. There were major gaps in clinical care, particularly in urban areas. Sustainable methods for delivering accessible and effective asthma care in sub-Saharan Africa are required.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mugusi F, Edwards R, Hayes L, Unwin N, Mbanya J-C, Whiting D, Sobngwi E, Rashid S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Tropical Doctor

Year: 2004

Volume: 34

Issue: 4

Pages: 209-214

ISSN (print): 0049-4755

ISSN (electronic): 1758-1133

Publisher: Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd

PubMed id: 15510944