Osteoporosis in Africa-where are we now

Clin Rheumatol. 2021 Sep;40(9):3419-3428. doi: 10.1007/s10067-020-05335-6. Epub 2020 Aug 14.


Africa is experiencing an exponential increase in the number of older persons. The number of persons surviving with human immunodeficiency virus is simultaneously increasing due to improved availability of anti-retroviral therapy. The burden of non-communicable diseases, in particular, osteoporosis and its consequent fragility fractures, is also predicted to increase. Osteoporosis, however, remains a neglected disease and there are no age-standardized reference data available to accurately screen and diagnose individuals with osteoporosis. Epidemiological studies reporting the incidence of hip fracture or vertebral fractures are limited from Africa, especially Sub-Saharan Africa. The studies are usually limited as they are based on a retrospective data and small study numbers and often from a single study site. However, compared with early initial studies, the more recent studies show that osteoporosis and fractures are increasing across the continent. The overall incidence rates for osteoporosis and fractures still vary greatly between different regions in Africa and ethnic groups. Predisposing factors are similar with those in developed countries, but awareness of osteoporosis is sorely lacking. There is a lack of awareness among the population as well as health authorities, making it extremely difficult to quantify the burden of disease. There is great potential for research into the need and availability of preventive strategies. The FRAX® tool needs to be developed for African populations and may circumvent the shortage of bone densitometry.

Keywords: Africa; Hip fracture; Incidence rates; Osteoporosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa / epidemiology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density
  • Hip Fractures*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Osteoporosis* / diagnosis
  • Osteoporosis* / epidemiology
  • Osteoporotic Fractures* / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies