Theevidently fewer data sources regarding the incidence of arthritis inAfrica prompted a team of researchers including Usenbo, Kramer,Young, and Musekiwa to conduct a study related to the topic. Thescholars realized that the scarcely available studies tend to havebroad estimate ranges because of practical variations andgeographical differences. While cases of musculoskeletal paralysishave gone up by more than 35% from the early 90s, arthritis ranks asthe fastest growing key health concern (Usenboet al., 2015).Therefore, the researchers were majorly interested in having anestimate of disability burden in Africa resulting from arthritis.High success rate in the study demanded increased level of accuracyin terms of comparison. The review utilizes the article, “Prevalenceof arthritis in Africa: A systematic review and Meta-Analysis”as the primary source, as well as other existing researches todetermine the predominance of arthritis in African countries.
Theauthors applied the technique of systematic review. They insisted onthe use of cross-sectional studies conducted in Africa documentingthe rate of the disease incidence in every age group. Literatureanalyses assisted in examining how prevalent arthritis is within theAfrican continent. Normally, deep comprehension of the number ofpeople who are affected by a condition is considered as the leadingphase in evaluating the scope of its burden and possible health carerequirements. As a result, the research consisted of both populationand hospital-centered evaluations.It exempted researches that appeared to be non-cross-sectional andthose that did not have clear variables. The key concern of theauthors was to avoid studies that were not related to the varioustypes of arthritis.
Theresearchers summarized the main findings from a population point ofview (Usenboet al., 2015).The rates of prevalence in urban localities varied from one countryto another. There was no point of reporting the overall frequency dueto the notable non-uniformity between the various studies. Incountryside areas, the arthritis incidence ranged from zero to anextreme of 0.38%. The team conducted the systematic reviews with themain agenda of evaluating the pervasiveness of all the common typesof arthritis. Most of the studies were population-based anddocumented relatively high incidence rates of rheumatoid arthritis incountryside areas. The figures of occurrence rates were used in ameta-analysis and generated substantial numerical heterogeneity. Thenotable statistical non-uniformity may be clarified by thedissimilarities between locational factors (Usenboet al., 2015). Secondary-analysisof the findings had major statistical heterogeneity, hence the needfor systematic review.
Moreover,the studies from Burkina Faso had it that most cases ofosteoarthritis affected the knee. For example, a sample study fromthis region documented that the prevalence of knee osteoarthritisstood at 0.6% among individuals who were already affected by HIV andwere in the course of their antiretroviral therapies (Usenboet al., 2015).Studies related to arthritis within the African continent tend to beladen with logistical problems. A number of nations in this continentare still far from getting out of their economic challenges even asthe regions are already going through urbanization (Mody,2017).The problem of non-linear economic transformation could possibly bethe reason why different studies used in the review had uniqueresults from one another. For example, two reports, one from Mali andthe other one from Gabon, described the disease as being less severein the later than the former.
Analysisand Critique of the Study
Mostscholars have shifted their attention to the study of infectiousdiseases at the expense of the non-communicable infections.Therefore, there is a high probability that the nations in theAfrican continent may begin suffering the burden of diseases likearthritis. In this view, the study comes at the best time when thereis high need for such reviews. Without studies to this effect, Africastands the danger of replicated burden of both infectious andnon-contagious diseases. The non-infectious conditions are purportedto have the potential of causing over 65% of all fatalities by theyear 2030 (Elshafie,2016). Therefore,there is dire need for similar population based reviews on theprevalence of arthritis in the Africa continent.
Nonetheless,it is possible that the wide incidence ranges seen may have been as aresult of diversity in cultures and geographical factors, as well asthe dissimilarity in methodologies applied in the studies. The keyweakness of the research arises from the fact that it never usedconsistent data on prevalence for the various arthritis types. Thedanger posed by this is the fact that most works used may not beillustrative of a nation’s population, hence reducedgeneralizability of ideas. Similarly, the available data on incidencerates is non-uniform, thus leading to the invalidity ofmeta-analysis. Direct comparability may equally be misleading becauseof the errors in case definitions. The implication is that therewould be no need for subgroup analyses by the use of diagnostictechniques. The zero rate of prevalence of arthritis as documented insome regions may not signify total absence of the condition (Lombard,2014).However, it only highlights the uncommonness of the condition in thevarious locations. If the zero rates are taken as true, then there isthe probability that the prevalence is under-estimated.
Importantto note is that population-based research is the best method formaking a comparison between disease features in different nations. However, when logistics and economy is an issue in one country ascompared to another, population based study becomes a challenge. Thepoint narrows down to the fact that most of the rheumatologyspecialists are concentrated in the urbanized areas and not in theless developed regions, among other things. By virtue of the mutatingnature of arthritis, it would be of essence if the researchersperformed comparative analysis between the hospital-centered studiesand population-based reviews so that they could arrive at the realcases of incidence at both community and clinic levels (Lombard,2014).Because of the scarcity of useable statistics, and the possible caseof non-nationwide depiction exhibited by a good number of theincluded data, the outcomes from the review should not be taken torepresent the entire African. To counter the issue ofnon-generalizability, it would be important if researchers from thearthritis pandemic zones come together to talk about the problem. Theunification of ideas may be important in countering the problem ofgeographical and cultural dissimilarities that lead tonon-generalizability (Elshafie,2016).
Inconclusion, regardless of its possible weaknesses, the systematicreview confirms the insufficiency of data related to the prevalenceof arthritis in the African continent. It exposes the invalidity ofthe currently available data as far as arthritis is concerned. Inother words, it comes at the best time when the available data onarthritis seem to be out of date to portray the current patterns ofthe disease. Therefore, incorporation of similar studies will help infilling the conceivable research gaps and illustrate how mucharthritis has become a burden to Africans.
Elshafie,A. I. (2016). Active rheumatoid arthritis in Central Africa: acomparative study between Sudan and Sweden. TheJournal of Rheumatology, 43(10),1777-1786.
Lombard,L. A., (2014). Body composition of rheumatoid arthritis patients inthe City of Cape Town, South Africa. Clinicalrheumatology, 33(4),467-476.
Mody,G. M. (2017). Rheumatology in Africa—challenges and opportunities.Research & Therapy, 19(1),49.
Usenbo,A., Kramer, V., Young, T., & Musekiwa, A. (2015). Prevalence ofarthritis in Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PloSone, 10(8),e0133858.