Author(s): V Ntlebi, F Made, K Wilson, T Kootbodien, N Tlotleng, N Naicker.

Source: Occupational Health Southern Africa. 2020; 26(6):282-286.


Background: A growing number of individuals, commonly known as waste pickers, driven by poverty and unemployment, earn a living recovering recyclable material. A few studies have investigated the prevalence of hypertension in the South African general population but none has investigated hypertension in waste pickers. We aimed to estimate the proportion of hypertension and to identify associated risk factors among waste pickers in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study, convenience sampling was used to select waste pickers at two landfill sites in Johannesburg, in 2018. Health-screening assessments included measurements of weight, height and blood pressure. An electronic questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic, health status and behavioural information. Descriptive statistics for continuous covariates, such as age, were summarised as means and standard deviations, while categorical variables were summarised as numbers and percentages. The two-sample test for proportions was conducted to assess the differences in proportions of hypertension. Logistic regression was used to test associations between hypertension and risk factors.

Results: Three hundred and sixty-one landfill waste pickers participated in the study. Of these, 265 (73.4%) were male and 96 (26.6%) were female. The proportion of women (42.7%; n = 41) with hypertension was higher than that of men (24.2%; n = 64). The adjusted analyses showed that age and injuries were statistically significantly associated with hypertension. For every one-year increase in age, the odds of developing hypertension increased by 5% (AOR = 1.05; 95% CI: 1.03–1.09). The AOR for hypertension in waste pickers with injuries was double that of waste pickers without injuries (AOR = 2.43; 1.20–4.97).

Conclusion: The proportion of landfill waste pickers with hypertension was higher among women than men. Age and injuries were associated with hypertension. The findings suggest the need for a combination of primary healthcare and occupational health services for these workers.