The rural Uganda non-communicable disease (RUNCD) study: prevalence and risk factors of self-reported NCDs from a cross sectional survey

BMC Public Health. 2021 Nov 7;21(1):2036. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-12123-7.


Background: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are an increasing global concern, with morbidity and mortality largely occurring in low- and middle-income settings. We established the prospective Rural Uganda Non-Communicable Disease (RUNCD) cohort to longitudinally characterize the NCD prevalence, progression, and complications in rural Africa.

Methods: We conducted a population-based census for NCD research. We systematically enrolled adults in each household among three sub-counties of the larger Nakaseke Health district and collected baseline demographic, health status, and self-reported chronic disease information. We present our data on self-reported chronic disease, as stratified by age, sex, educational attainment, and sub-county.

Results: A total of 16,694 adults were surveyed with 10,563 (63%) respondents enrolled in the self-reported study. Average age was 37.8 years (SD = 16.5) and 45% (7481) were male. Among self-reported diseases, hypertension (HTN) was most prevalent (6.3%). 1.1% of participants reported a diagnosis of diabetes, 1.1% asthma, 0.7% COPD, and 0.4% kidney disease. 2.4% of the population described more than one NCD. Self-reported HTN was significantly higher in the peri-urban subcounty than in the other two rural sub-counties (p < 0.001); diagnoses for all other diseases did not differ significantly between sub-counties. Odds for self-reported HTN increased significantly with age (OR = 1.87 per 10 years of age, 95% CI 1.78-1.96). Male sex was associated with lower odds of reporting asthma (OR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.34-0.82) or HTN (OR = 0.31, 95% CI 0.26-0.40).

Conclusions: The RUNCD will establish one of the largest NCD patient cohorts in rural Africa. First analysis highlights the feasibility of systematically enrolling large numbers of adults living in a rural Ugandan district. In addition, our study demonstrates low levels of self-reported NCDs compared to the nation-wide established levels, emphasizing the need to better educate, characterize, and care for the majority of rural communities.

Keywords: Low- and middle-income countries; Non-communicable diseases; Rural.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noncommunicable Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population
  • Self Report
  • Uganda / epidemiology