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Disease burden and the role of pharmacogenomics in African populations

  • K. L. Mpye (a1), A. Matimba (a2), K. Dzobo (a3) (a4), S. Chirikure (a5), A. Wonkam (a1) and C. Dandara (a1)...

The burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases in Sub-Saharan Africa poses a challenge in achieving quality healthcare. Although therapeutic drugs have generally improved health, their efficacy differs from individual to individual. Variability in treatment response is mainly because of genetic variants that affect the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of drugs.


The intersection of disease burden and therapeutic intervention is reviewed, and the status of pharmacogenomics knowledge in African populations is explored.


The most commonly studied variants with pharmacogenomics relevance are discussed, especially in genes coding for enzymes that affect the response to drugs used for HIV, malaria, sickle cell disease and cardiovascular diseases.


The genetically diverse African population is likely to benefit from a pharmacogenomics-based healthcare approach, especially with respect to reduction of drug side effects, and separation of responders and non-responders leading to optimized drug choices and doses for each patient.

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Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: C. Dandara, Division of Human Genetics, Department of Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Institute of Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, 7925, Cape Town, South Africa. (Email:
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