Prevalence and economic burden of dementia in the Arab world
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Background: The growing prevalence of dementia is a global concern, especially in the Arab world, where updated economic impact data are scarce. Understanding its prevalence and cost is crucial for effective policies and support systems. Aims: To estimate dementia prevalence and cost in Arab countries for 2021. Method: United Nations population data and dementia prevalence estimates were used to calculate total cases. Direct costs were based on gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (purchasing power parity) and income classification. Indirect caregiver support costs were estimated using average monthly wages and two distinct scenarios. Results: The highest dementia prevalence among those aged more than 60 years was in Lebanon (4.88%), Tunisia (4.43%) and Algeria (4.19%). The total direct cost in the Arab region was $8.18 billion for those over 50 years old. Indirect costs ranged from $2.25 billion (best case) to $5.67 billion (worst case), with a mean value of $3.98 billion. Total dementia care costs (direct and indirect) under the mean scenario for the entire Arab world amounted to $12.17 billion, with costs as a percentage of GDP ranging from 0.05% (Sudan) to 0.44% (Lebanon). Conclusions: This study highlights dementia as a growing public health issue in the Arab world, with 1 329 729 individuals affected in 2021 and total costs between $10.43 billion and $13.90 billion. The findings emphasise the urgent need for investment in research and specialised services for older adults, particularly those with dementia.