With a population of over one billion, Africa is one of the world's most populous continents and faces exponentially growing dementia rates. There are increased concerns about negative attitudes towards dementia in the South African population and how to find more effective ways to address them. Changing people's attitudes towards dementia is essential before it is too late to halt immense human costs and suffering. Attitudes are the disposition of people to respond either favorably or unfavorably to people with the disease; they are essential to understanding how people behave towards those affected. In a 2015 study conducted in one Xhosa speaking community in South Africa, the report stated that there was a lack of knowledge about dementia, with an average accuracy of 53.44% on the knowledge test. Only 10% reported knowing what dementia was. The same study showed that knowledge about dementia was limited with no relationship to attitudes of high tolerance towards people with dementia. Elder abuse was well recognized, but poorly reported. Appropriate health promotion strategies and education should be conducted, and further research should be done into dementia in South Africa. Studies from developed countries reported that watching films improves peoples' attitudes toward dementia and reduces stigma. In 2022 I launched “The Deal”, a short film I wrote, produced and directed featuring a minor role of a character living with dementia in a South African setting. The film has achieved a media engagement on over 80 media platforms and a reach of over 696,351,370. My overarching goal is to raise dementia awareness through film advocacy in Africa.
This project will use a narrative short film to raise awareness about dementia in South African populations and contribute to dementia advocacy efforts. I will write a script, shoot, and produce a short film relevant to the South African context to improve awareness and attitudes towards dementia in my community. This film will be accessible to the community through national free-to-air channels in South Africa and around the continent. My future work will expand to collaborate with dementia and Alzheimer's advocacy groups to run community-based awareness workshops, using the film to engage with communities about dementia, its modifiable risk factors, and resources for treatment. I will also collaborate with the media to profile the film and raise dementia awareness in South Africa.