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BACKGROUND: When faced with developing orthopaedic services for children in Sub-Saharan Africa, there is little objective evidence-based data on the magnitude and type of services needed. Rwanda is a small country that is in the process of developing orthopaedic and rehabilitation services, and its Ministry of Health supported a survey that would provide information necessary for planning such services. METHODS: A national survey of musculoskeletal impairment (MSI) prevalence was undertaken. Of a population of 8.4 million, 8368 people were enumerated. Four thousand one hundred thirty-four were aged 16 years or less. Cases who failed a screening test for MSI were examined, allocated a diagnostic category, and assessed as to treatment needed. RESULTS: Of 4134 people aged 16 years or less who were enumerated, 3526 (85%) were screened and 91 had MSI, giving a prevalence of MSI among children of 2.58% (95% confidence interval; 2.06-3.10). Twenty-three percent of MSIs were a result of congenital deformity, 14% neurologic conditions, 12% trauma, 3% infection, and 46% other acquired pathology. Of the MSIs, 56.7% were mild, 37.8% moderate, and 5.6% severe. Extrapolated treatment needs suggest that 2% of Rwandan children (approximately 80,000) need orthopaedic physical therapy, 1.2% (50,000) need orthopaedic surgery, and approximately 10,000 need orthopaedic appliances. CONCLUSIONS: These results will be of use in planning future paediatric orthopaedic services in Rwanda, and for comparative studies in other low-income countries.

Original publication




Journal article


J Pediatr Orthop

Publication Date





948 - 951


Adolescent, Child, Female, Health Care Surveys, Health Services Needs and Demand, Humans, Male, Musculoskeletal Diseases, Needs Assessment, Orthopedic Procedures, Physical Therapy Modalities, Pilot Projects, Prevalence, Rwanda