Autism spectrum disorders in sub-Saharan Africa

Document Type



Institute for Human Development


Abstract: Autism spectrum disorder is one of the most prevalent neurodevelopmental disorders in high-income countries, but little is known about the disorder in low-income and middle-income regions, such as Africa. 12 A review 3 of the global prevalence of autism did not identify any data from sub-Saharan Africa, even though this region has a population of nearly 1 billion, 40% of whom are children younger than 14 years. Although public-health emphasis in sub-Saharan Africa has been on communicable conditions such as HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, 4 with the reduction in childhood mortality rates in the past 20 years, non-communicable diseases (particularly, neurodevelopmental disorders) are likely to become a greater health burden in these countries. 4 Studies on autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in Africa are urgently needed.


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


The Lancet Psychiatry