BACKGROUND : Middle and lower income countries are challenged with a double burden of
disease: while still coping with the onslaught of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and
increasing levels of tuberculosis (TB), there is a considerable increase in the level of
noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). The poor are especially disadvantaged and are at an
increased risk for NCDs. Adequate healthcare resources for this environment can only be
allocated once the extent and exact nature of the problem is determined.
AIM AND SETTING : The aim of this study was to collect demographic and NCD-related data in
the poorest community of the poorest province of South Africa in order to determine the extent
of the problem and advise on allocation of resources accordingly.
METHODS : Data were collected via a household primary health screening process, which
included taking anthropometric measurements, blood pressure and blood glucose and
referring to clinics for further testing and treatment where necessary.
RESULTS : It was found that the population screened was generally older, consisted of women,
and had a high incidence of obesity and hypertension. Of note was the fact that in those
without known hypertension, close to 40% of individuals had possible newly diagnosed
hypertension. This increased with increase in age and body mass index (BMI). The total
prevalence of diabetes was close to 5%, but possible new diabetes was considerably lower at
CONCLUSION : In this rural area of the Eastern Cape, South Africa, undiagnosed hypertension is
a major concern and renewed efforts at detection and control are warranted.