The burden of headache disorders in Ethiopia: national estimates from a population-based door-to-door survey
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionThe Journal of Headache and Pain. 2017, 18 (1). 10.1186/s10194-017-0765-7
Background: Headache disorders are the third-highest cause of disability worldwide, with migraine and medication-overuse headache (MOH) the major contributors. In Ethiopia we have shown these disorders to be highly prevalent: migraine 17.7%, TTH 20.6%, probable MOH (pMOH) 0.7%, any headache yesterday (HY) 6.4%. To inform local health policy, we now estimate disability and other burdens attributable to headache in this country. Methods: In a cross-sectional survey using cluster-randomized sampling, we visited households unannounced in four diverse regions (urban and rural) of Ethiopia. We interviewed one member (18–65 years old) of each household using the HARDSHIP structured questionnaire. Screening and diagnostic questions based on ICHD-II were followed by burden enquiry in multiple domains. We estimated disability using disability weights (DWs) from the Global Burden of Disease 2013 study. Results: We interviewed 2385 participants (1064 [44.7%] male, 596 [25.0%] urban; participating proportion 99.8%). Reported mean intensity of migraine was 2.6 (scale 1–3). People with migraine spent 11.7% of their time in the ictal state (DW: 0.441); they were therefore 5.2% disabled overall. Pain and disability from TTH were much lower. Mean intensity of pMOH was 2.95. People with pMOH spent 60.2% of time with headache (DW: 0.223), and were 13.4% disabled. Average proportions of per-person lost productive time were, for migraine, 4.5% from paid work, 5.3% from household work; for pMOH they were 29.2% and 16.0%. There were highly-disabled minorities, and large gender differences, males losing more paid workdays, females more household workdays. All headache types were associated with impairments in quality of life. Across the population aged 18–65 years (effectively the working population), disability from headache was 1.4%, with 1.6% of workdays lost (half from migraine). Estimates from HY, eliminating recall error, were highly compatible. Conclusions: Ethiopia is a low-income country, and cannot afford these losses – including, perhaps, 1.6% of GDP. Political action is necessary, aimed at mitigating both the economic burden and the associated ill health. WHO has recommended structured headache services with their basis in primary care as the most efficient, effective, affordable and equitable solution, potentially cost-saving. We believe they can be implemented within Ethiopia’s existing health-care infrastructure.