WHO estimates suggest that age-specific death rates from non-communicable diseases are higher in sub-Saharan Africa than in high-income countries. The objectives of this study were to examine, in Burkina Faso, the prevalence of non-communicable disease symptoms by age, gender, socioeconomic group and setting (rural/urban), and to assess gender and socioeconomic inequalities in the prevalence of these symptoms.
We obtained data from the Burkina Faso World Health Survey, which was conducted in an adult population (18 years and over) with a high response rate (4822/4880 selected individuals). The survey used a multi-stage stratified random cluster sampling strategy to identify participants. The survey collected information on socio-demographic and economic characteristics, as well as data on symptoms of a variety of health conditions. Our study focused on joint disease, back pain, angina pectoris, and asthma. We estimated prevalence correcting for the sampling design. We used multiple Poisson regression to estimate associations between non-communicable disease symptoms, gender, socioeconomic status and setting.
The overall crude prevalence and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were: 16.2% [13.5; 19.2] for joint disease, 24% [21.5; 26.6] for back pain, 17.9% [15.8; 20.2] for angina pectoris, and 11.6% [9.5; 14.2] for asthma. Consistent relationships between age and the prevalence of non-communicable disease symptoms were observed in both men and women from rural and urban settings. There was markedly high prevalence in all conditions studied, starting with young adults. Women presented higher prevalence rates of symptoms than men for all conditions: prevalence ratios and 95% CIs were 1.20 [1.01; 1.43] for joint disease, 1.42 [1.21; 1.66] for back pain, 1.68 [1.39; 2.04] for angina pectoris, and 1.28 [0.99; 1.65] for asthma. Housewives and unemployed women had the highest prevalence rates of non-communicable disease symptoms.
Our work suggests that social inequality extends into the distribution of non-communicable diseases among social groups and supports the thesis of a differential vulnerability in Burkinabè women. It raises the possibility of an abnormally high rate of premature morbidity that could manifest as a form of premature aging in the adult population. Increased prevention, screening and treatment are needed in Burkina Faso to address high prevalence and gender inequalities in non-communicable diseases.