Epidemiologic study of qat use in the National Army of Djibouti

by Mion G, Oberti M
Service d’Anesthesie-Reanimation,
Centre Hospitalier des Armees Bouffard.
Med Trop (Mars) 1998; 58(2):161-4


Chewing of qat leaves is a traditional practice in the horn of Africa. Amphetamine-like alkaloids contained in the leaves account for the psychostimulating (anorexia, exhiliaration, euphoria) and sympathomimetic effects. The results of this prospective study based on interviews of 100 servicemen seeking medical advice showed that the prevalence of qat use in the National Army of Djibouti was 84%. Mean consumption of qat by users was 400 +/- 50 grams per chew requiring a monthly expenditure of approximately 500 FF. Heart rate and blood pressure in users were not significantly different from non-users. No correlation was found between blood pressure and either age or quantity of qat ingested per chew. A greenish discoloration of the tongue was observed in 65% of qat users but this sign was not specific (60%). qat use was correlated with poor dental health. The findings of this study indicate that qat use is widespread among young males in Djibouti but that its cardiovascular effects are limited in this age group.