Parkinson’s Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Review of Epidemiology, Genetics and Access to Care


A low prevalence of Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been reported in the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region. The genetic causes and clinical features of PD in this region have been poorly described. Very few reports have examined the availability and access to evidence-based quality care for people living with PD in this region. We reviewed all publications focusing on idiopathic PD from SSA published up to May 2016 and observed a prevalence of PD ranging from 7/100,000 in Ethiopia to 67/100,000 in Nigeria. The most recent community-based study reported a mean age at onset of 69.4 years. The infrequent occurrence of mutations in established PD genes was also observed in the region. Treatments were non-existent or at best irregular. Additionally, there is a lack of well-trained medical personnel and multidisciplinary teams in most countries in this region. Drugs for treating PD are either not available or unaffordable. Large-scale genetic and epidemiological studies are therefore needed in SSA to provide further insights into the roles of genetics and other etiological factors in the pathogenesis of PD. The quality of care also requires urgent improvement to meet the basic level of care required by PD patients.

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