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

Trop Doct. 2004 Oct;34(4):209-14. doi: 10.1177/004947550403400408.


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 importantclinical 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 types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Asthma / diagnosis
  • Asthma / drug therapy
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Bronchodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Rural Population*
  • Urban Population*


  • Bronchodilator Agents