n South African Medical Journal - Pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease : an African perspective : article

Volume 105, Issue 9
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



The importance of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as a global health problem cannot be overstated. According to the latest World Health Organization statistics (2005), 210 million people suffer from COPD worldwide, and 5% of all deaths globally are estimated to be caused by this disease. This corresponds to >3 million deaths annually, of which 90% are thought to occur in low - and middle-income countries. While cigarette smoking remains the major risk factor, and much of the increase in COPD is associated with projected increases in tobacco use, epidemiological studies have demonstrated that in the majority of patients in developing countries the aetiology of COPD is multi-factorial. This article summarises the epidemiology of and risk factors for COPD in Africa, including influences other than cigarette smoking that are important contributors to chronic irreversible airflow limitation in our setting.

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