Estimating the number of cases of podoconiosis in Ethiopia using geostatistical methods
Background: In 2011, the World Health Organization recognized podoconiosis as one of the neglected tropical diseases. Nonetheless, the number of people with podoconiosis and the geographical distribution of the disease is poorly understood. Based on a nationwide mapping survey and geostatistical modelling, we predict the prevalence of podoconiosis and estimate the number of cases across Ethiopia.
Methods: We used nationwide data collected in Ethiopia between 2008 and 2013. Data were available for 141,238 individuals from 1,442 villages in 775 districts from all nine regional states and two city administrations. We developed a geostatistical model of podoconiosis prevalence among adults (individuals aged 15 years or above), by combining environmental factors. The number of people with podoconiosis was then estimated using a gridded map of adult population density for 2015.
Results: Podoconiosis is endemic in 345 districts in Ethiopia: 144 in Oromia, 128 in Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s [SNNP], 64 in Amhara, 4 in Benishangul Gumuz, 4 in Tigray and 1 in Somali Regional State. Nationally, our estimates suggest that 1,537,963 adults (95% confidence intervals, 290,923-4,577,031 adults) were living with podoconiosis in 2015. Three regions (SNNP, Oromia and Amhara) contributed 99% of the cases. The highest proportion of individuals with podoconiosis resided in the SNNP (39%), while 32% and 29% of people with podoconiosis resided in Oromia and Amhara Regional States, respectively. Tigray and Benishangul Gumuz Regional States bore lower burdens, and in the remaining regions, podoconiosis was almost non-existent.
Discussion: The estimates of podoconiosis cases presented here based upon the combination of currently available epidemiological data and a robust modelling approach clearly show that podoconiosis is highly endemic in Ethiopia. Given the presence of low cost prevention, and morbidity management and disability prevention services, it is our collective responsibility to scale-up interventions rapidly.