Dealing with Access to Spirometry in Africa: A Commentary on Challenges and Solutions

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Dec 27;16(1):62. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16010062.


Spirometry is an important tool in the surveillance, epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of respiratory disease, yet its accessibility is currently limited in Africa where the burden of respiratory diseases is amongst the highest globally. The reasons for limited access to spirometry in Africa include poor access to training and skilled technicians, limited availability of equipment, consumables, and technical support, and lack of human and financial resources. The Pan African Thoracic Society, working together with regional African thoracic societies and key research initiatives in Africa, have made progress in training and education, but a lot of work is still needed to meet the challenges faced. Accurately defining these challenges of access to high quality spirometry, development of local, standardised, and context-specific training and quality assurance tools; development of appropriate reference standards and innovative approaches to addressing the challenges of access to equipment, consumables and technical support are needed. Training and research collaborations that include regional thoracic societies, health system leaders, the Pan African Thoracic Society and international role players in the field are key to maximising available intellectual and financial resources. Hence ensuring that access to high quality spirometry measures that are used effectively in tackling the burden of respiratory disease in Africa.

Keywords: Africa; lung disease; spirometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Inservice Training
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Diseases / epidemiology
  • Spirometry*