Rheumatic diseases in Africa

Adelowo O, Mody GM, Tikly M, Oyoo O, Slimani S. "Rheumatic diseases in Africa." Af r ic a n J o u r n a l o f R h e u mat o l o g y. 2021;7(1):1-6.


Historically, rheumatic diseases have not received much attention in Africa, particularly
in sub- Saharan Africa, possibly owing to a focus on the overwhelming incidence of infectious
diseases and the decreased life span of the general population in this region. Global attention
and support, together with better health policies and planning, have improved outcomes for
many infectious diseases; thus, increasing attention is being turned to chronic non- communicable
diseases. Rheumatic diseases were previously considered to be rare among Africans but there is
now a growing interest in these conditions, particularly as the number of rheumatologists on the
continent increases. This interest has resulted in a growing number of publications from Africa
on the more commonly encountered rheumatic diseases, as well as case reports of rare diseases.
Despite the limited amount of available data, some aspects of the epidemiology, genetics and
clinical and laboratory features of rheumatic diseases in African populations are known, as is some
detail on the use of therapeutics. Similarities and differences in these conditions can be seen
across the multi- ethnic and genetically diverse African continent, and it is hoped that increased
awareness of rheumatic diseases in Africa will lead to earlier diagnosis and better outcomes
for patients.

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