Continuing Medical Education

Pathogenesis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: An African perspective

B Allwood, G Calligaro


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 multifactorial.
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.

Authors' affiliations

B Allwood, Division of Pulmonology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa

G Calligaro, Lung Infection and Immunity Unit, Division of Pulmonology and UCT Lung Institute, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town, South Africa

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Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(9):789. DOI:10.7196/SAMJnew.8424

Article History

Date submitted: 2015-09-15
Date published: 2015-09-15

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