The prevalence of dementia in rural Tanzania: a cross-sectional community-based study

Document Type



Imaging and Diagnostic Radiology (East Africa)


Objectives:Despite the growing burden of dementia in low-income countries, there are few previousdata on the prevalence of dementia in sub-Saharan Africa. The aim of this study was to estimate theprevalence of dementia in those who are 70 years and older in the rural Hai District of Tanzania.Methods:This was a two-phase cross-sectional survey. Using census data, we screened individuals aged70 years and older from six rural villages using the Community Screening Instrument for Dementia inPhase I. In Phase II, a stratified sample of those identified in Phase I were clinically assessed using theDSM-IV criteria.Results:Of 1198 people who fulfilled the inclusion criteria, 184 screened positive for probable dementia,and 104 screened positive for possible dementia using the Community Screening Instrument forDementia. During clinical assessment in Phase II, 78 cases of dementia were identified accordingto the DSM-IV criteria. The age-standardised prevalence of dementia was 6.4% (95% confidenceinterval: 4.9 to 7.9). Prevalence rates increased significantly with increasing age.Conclusions:The prevalence of dementia in this rural Tanzanian population is similar to that reported inhigh-income countries. Dementia is likely to become a significant health burden in this population asdemographic transition continues. Further research on risk factors for dementia in sub-Saharan Africa isneeded to inform policy makers and plan local health services.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.


Int J Geriatr Psychiatry