Objectives: To ascertain the known burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in Africa and of spirometry use to indicate the possibility of further unpublished data becoming shortly available.
Method: Literature review.
Results: Screening of 132 articles yielded 22 relevant articles, of which only six used spirometry based data. A total of 106 physicians in 34 countries were contacted and only 23 reported satisfactory use and availability of spirometry.
Conclusions: Current estimates of COPD burden in Africa are based on an unreliably small dataset. Acquisition of further data will require substantial investment in lung function equipment and training.