Skin diseases among schoolchildren in Ghana, Gabon, and Rwanda


  • Funding: The study was supported by a gift from the Gratama Foundation, the Netherlands, the EU project GLOFAL “Global View of Food Allergy: Opportunities to Study the Influence of Microbial Exposure” (FP6-2003-Food-2B; contract: FOOD-CT-2005-517812) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research for Global Development (WOTRO; grant no. WB 93-433).
  • Conflicts of interest: None.


Adriana Lavrijsen, md, phd

Department of Dermatovenereology, Leiden University Medical Center

PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands




Skin diseases, especially skin infections, among schoolchildren in Africa can be a major health problem. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalences of skin diseases among children in rural and urban schools in three different African countries and to study the influence of socioeconomic level.


Cross-sectional, population-based studies were performed in Ghana, Gabon, and Rwanda. Point prevalences of skin diseases were estimated on the basis of physical examination by at least one dermatologist.


A total of 4839 schoolchildren were seen. The overall prevalence of schoolchildren with any skin disease was high and amounted to 34.6% and 42.0% in two Ghanaian studies, 45.8% in Gabon, and 26.7% in Rwanda. In children with skin diseases, skin infections represented the greatest proportion of disease, accounting for 14.7% and 17.6% of skin disease in the Ghanaian studies, and 27.7% and 22.7% in Gabon and Rwanda, respectively. Diseases with the highest prevalence were tinea capitis and bacterial skin infections, especially in rural areas and in schools serving children living at lower socioeconomic levels.


The prevalences of skin diseases among African schoolchildren were high. Skin infections such as tinea capitis and pyoderma predominated.