A review of epidemiological studies of asthma in Ghana
Context/Background: The last few decades have witnessed a rise in the global prevalence of asthma with a number of risk factors being linked to this increase. Although there is insufficient data on the prevalence of asthma in Ghana, a few studies conducted in this country have shed light on the disease aetiology and associated risk factors.
Evidence Acquisition: The purpose of this review is to explore the literature on epidemiological studies on asthma carried out in Ghana and how these findings fit into the wider context of observations from other countries.
Results: Asthma research in Ghana has focused mainly on children between the ages of 5-16 years with one published study that included adults. Different markers for the disease have been used such as cliniciandiagnosed asthma, exercise-induced bronchospasm (EIB) as well as questionnaire-derived symptoms of asthma. Factors found to be associated with asthma in Ghana include atopic sensitisation to environmental allergens, inner-city residence and socioeconomic differences. Other implicated factors are family history of asthma, sib-ship position, breast-feeding duration and helminth infections.
Conclusions: Future research in Ghana must establish the burden of disease among all age-groups as well as clearly differentiate between allergic and non-allergic asthma. Studies are also needed to examine the role of environmental air pollutants on the disease’s pathogenesis.
Keywords: Asthma, atopy, allergy, risk factors, urbanisation, Ghana, Sub-Saharan Africa