To establish the epidemiology and patterns of care of Crohn’s Disease in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
A cross-sectional survey of gastroenterology providers in countries where the world’s poorest billion live was conducted to learn more about the state of diagnostic and treatment capacity for Crohn’s. Quantitative data were analyzed in R and Excel.
A total of 46 survey responses from 15 countries were received, giving a response rate of 54.8%. All responses collected were from providers practicing in Africa and South Asia. The mean number of patients with Crohn’s cared for in the last year was 89.5 overall but ranged from 0 reported at one facility in Rwanda to 1000 reported at two different facilities in India. Overall, Crohn’s disease made up 20.6% of the inflammatory bowel disease diagnoses reported by survey respondents, with Africa exhibiting a larger proportion of Crohn’s compared to ulcerative colitis than Asia. Most providers reported that patients with Crohn’s have symptoms for 6–24 months prior to diagnosis and that 26–50% of their patients live in rural areas. The most reported diagnostic challenges are differentiating between Crohn’s and intestinal tuberculosis, poor disease awareness, and lack of trained pathologists. The most widely reported challenge in managing Crohn’s disease is patients’ inability to afford biologics, reported by 65% of providers.
Our study suggests there may be a greater burden of Crohn’s disease in low- and lower-middle-income countries than is indicated in prior literature. Respondents reported many challenges in diagnosing and treating Crohn’s disease.