“If we are waiting for the numbers alone, we will miss the point”: a qualitative study of the perceived rise of food allergy and associated risk factors in the Greater Accra Region, Ghana Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Background: Globally, food allergy [FA] is considered a growing health epidemic. While much of what is known comes from developed countries, there is growing interest in the epidemiology of FA in developing regions such as sub-Saharan Africa. Indeed, researchers are beginning to document the incidence and prevalence of FA and sensitization. The results outlined in this paper stem from an exploratory qualitative study examining the emergence of the health risk of FA in Ghana, a country undergoing epidemiologic changes. Methods: Between June and August, 2015, we conducted thirty-seven (37) semi-structured in-depth interviews. This comprised seventeen (17) healthcare workers across 12 public and private hospitals and twenty (20) individuals with FA and families with allergic children. All interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were analyzed to develop thematic areas that characterize perceptions and experiences around FA. Results: Three key broad themes arise from this study. First, FA is an emerging health risk, whose incidence is perceived to be increasing. Second, participants expressed mixed perceptions about the public health burden of FA. Third, participants identified individual and societal factors that may be influencing FA risks and susceptibility. Conclusion: Our research suggests FA is a growing but unrecognized public health concern. There is the need for health policies and researchers to consider the full extent of ongoing epidemiologic changes for the health of populations in developing regions.

publication date

  • December 2017