Dementia in sub-Saharan Africa

Our report Dementia in sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges and opportunities highlights new data on the impact of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa, the experiences of those living with dementia in the region and the urgent need for governments to act to encourage improved understanding, access to health services and social protection.

The report gives updated estimates of numbers of people with dementia, prevalence, incidence and economic impact. It also reviews qualitative evidence of the experiences of people with dementia and their families. The report looks at social protection measures (social pensions and health insurance), draws conclusions and makes recommendations.

Key points
  • An estimated 2.13 million people were living with dementia in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, with numbers projected to nearly double every 20 years, increasing to 3.48 million by 2030 and 7.62 million by 2050.
  • The total costs of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa were an estimated US$6.2 billion in 2015. Two-thirds to three-quarters of the total costs are attributed to informal care.
  • Over 367,000 new cases of dementia arise in a year in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • No equivalent term for dementia was identified in any local languages, and there is a general lack of awareness of dementia among the community.
  • The World Health Organization’s Global Plan of Action on Dementia was unanimously adopted by member states in May 2017. As yet, no dementia plans have been established by countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The WHO plan provides indicators and targets to evaluate levels of implementation, progress and impact.
  • Improving dementia awareness, access to services (through Universal Health Coverage) and dementia risk reduction are challenges that countries in sub-Saharan Africa must tackle. Rights must be recognised, respected and protected to empower people living with dementia and those who support them.
  • More research is needed in almost all domains of the dementia field in sub-Saharan Africa. The WHO Global Plan must be used to support the development of dementia research globally and guide nations to define adequate research agendas, supporting national and regional health agendas.

Read the report

Dementia in sub-Saharan Africa (PDF, 69 pages)

Démences en Afrique sub-Saharienne - Summary in French (PDF, 11 pages)


  • Dr Maëlenn Guerchet, King’s College London (UK)
  • Dr Rosie Mayston, King’s College London (UK)
  • Prof Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, University of East Anglia (UK)
  • Prof Martin Prince, King’s College London (UK)
  • Dr Isabella Aboderin, Africa Population and Health Research Center, Nairobi (Kenya)
  • Dr Rufus Akinyemi, University of Ibadan (Nigeria)
  • Dr Stella-Maria Paddick, Newcastle University (UK)
  • Prof Anders Wimo, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm (Sweden)
  • Dr Mary Amoakoh-Coleman, University of Ghana (Ghana)
  • Dr Richard Uwakwe, Nnamdi Azikiwe University Teaching Hospital (Nigeria)
  • Dr Peter Ezeah, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (Nigeria)