Patterns of Musculoskeletal Diseases seen in Zambian Children

  • E Makasa
  • J Munthali


Background: Musculoskeletal disorders are a common cause of long-term pain and physical disability affecting many people worldwide and have an enormous economic and social impact on the individual, society and national health systems. Although the burden of disease due to musculoskeletal disorders is said to be on the rise in the developing world, the full extent of this burden remains unknown.
Objectives: To describe the patterns of musculoskeletal disorders seen in Zambian children aged below 15 years as baseline for future orthopaedic research, training and health management policy.
Methods: Through a hospital-based cross-sectional study design, relevant data was collected onto an evaluation form from medical records of 1246 patients at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH), Zambian-Italian Orthopaedic Hospital (ZIOH) and the Flying-Specialist (FLYSPEC) nationwide orthopaedic outreach. The data was then entered into a spreadsheet and imported into SPSS for analysis.
Results: Congenital abnormalities, other noncongenital deformities, and traumatic fracture dislocations were the commonest conditions affecting the 1246 sampled children with prevalence rates of 0.49, 0.22 and 0.14 respectively. Most patients presented late (more than 3months from the onset of their condition) with 509 (42.2%) having travelled for more than 10 kilometres to get to their treatment sites. 561 (45.4%) had been treated conservatively prior to their presentation to orthopaedics with another 471 (38.1%) having received no treatment at all.
Conclusion: congenital abnormalities, noncongenital limb deformities and traumatic conditions were the commonest musculoskeletal disorders in that order. More males than females were afflicted though this distribution was different within the age ranges. Most of these patients presented late and distance to health facility was strongly correlated to late presentation. Furthermore, at first presentation these children receive little or no appropriate treatment from the first-line health workers at local health centres.

Keywords: Musculoskeletal diseases, Children, Zambian


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0047-651X
print ISSN: 0047-651X