One in every 12 individuals aged 60 years or older has dementia in Bangladesh while the disease burden among females was found higher than males across all ages and divisions, said a study.
The study results was disclosed at a webinar titled ‘“The burden of dementia among older people in Bangladesh: Findings of a National Survey” organized by icddr,b in collaboration with the Non-Communicable Disease Control Programme of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and the National Institute of Neuroscience & Hospital (NINS) on Thursday.Professor Dr Abul Bashar Mohammad Khurshid Alam, Director General of DGHS, was present as Chief Guest. Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Executive Director at icddr,b, and Prof. Quazi Deen Mohammad, Director of the NINS were special guests, while Professor Dr Robed Amin, Line Director, NCDC Programme of the DGHS chaired the event.
In order to estimate the prevalence of dementia and major non-communicable diseases in seven administrative divisions of Bangladesh, icddr,b and NINS conducted a nationwide survey during April to September 2019. The survey involved 2,796 older adults (≥60 years of age), who were randomly selected from urban and rural communities.
The study looked at the burden of dementia, and variations by socio-demographic status, region and striking result regarding healthcare-seeking patterns among the older aged population in Bangladesh.
The study also found that the dementia disease burden is higher in Rajshahi (15%) and Rangpur (12%) than other divisions, and did not vary between urban and rural areas (8%). The burden of dementia among females was found higher than males across all ages and divisions.
It said more than half of the individuals with dementia had one or more chronic conditions (multimorbidity), including hypertension (52%), depression (54%), and diabetes (8%).
The study found that more than a third of the individuals with dementia had a poor nutritional status (35% underweight), low physical activity (49%), high salt intake (56%) and high tobacco consumption (76.6%), which is common risk factors of NCDs.Almost all individuals with dementia reported having sought healthcare in the past six months (90%). They have also frequently visited drug sellers (16.6%) than a qualified doctor either in a private facility (12%) or a government facility (5.4%), it added.
Principal investigator of the study Dr Aliya Naheed, a scientist at icddr,b said old age is undeniable, which demands an empathetic support system central to old-age care.
However, the study estimates that the total number of dementia cases in Bangladesh in 2020 could be about 1.1 million, including 0.28 million males and 0.83 million females.
The study projects that the number could increase to 1.37 million in 2025 and it could be doubled in 2041 (2.4 million), which may be increased even further if it is not intervened effectively.
The study calls for a concerted effort of the family, society, private sectors, and the government to support old-age healthcare and will help reduce the burden of dementia in Bangladesh, and an innovative local evidence-based intervention to halt the increasing burden of dementia in Bangladesh.
Dementia is a syndrome in which there is deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday activities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 50 million people have dementia globally, and 60 per cent of them are from low-and middle-income countries.