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Disabil Rehabil. 2002 Nov 10;24(16):851-9.

Disability in an urban black community in Zimbabwe.

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  • 1Division of Physiotherapy, University of Cape Town, South Africa.



This study was undertaken to establish which health conditions are primarily responsible for disability and morbidity in a high-density area in Harare, Zimbabwe.


House-to-house screening visits were followed up by medical examination and interview of those identified as having a functional limitation.


Information was obtained during screening on 10,839 residents. Of these, 608 were examined by medical professionals. The rate of disability/morbidity was 5.6% for the whole sample. Headaches and migraine were the most common problem. These were followed by back pain, hypertension and osteoarthritis. HIV/AIDS was the fifth most common condition. Depression, based on responses to a screening tool, was evident in one-third of the subjects. Common activity limitations included difficulty with the performance of housework activities and with walking. HIV/AIDS resulted in the most severe activity limitation, in that cognitive functions were also affected.


The middle-aged and elderly with osteoarthritis and young women with depression constitute vulnerable groups who are not in a position to demand services. The older women particularly need assistance as they are bearing the double burden of their own degenerative conditions and the results of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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