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World leaders challenged to address the global fight against dementia
Date of article: 11-Apr-12
Article By: Richard Howard, News Editor
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Alzheimer’s Disease International have published a report on the challenges that dementia onset presents worldwide, hoping to convince world leaders to support research and investment in appropriate health and social care provision.
Estimating 35.6 million people worldwide to already live with dementia, ‘Dementia: A Public Health Priority’ calls upon government and policy-makers to acknowledge the global threat to health as a result of a rapidly ageing population.
Writing of the challenges an increasing number of dementia sufferers presents, director-general of WHO Dr Margaret Chan writes: “The need for long-term care for people with dementia strains health and social systems, and budgets. The catastrophic cost of care drives millions of households across the poverty line. The overwhelming number of people whose lives are altered by dementia, combined with the staggering economic burden on families and nations, makes dementia a public health priority.”
WHO estimates current costs to health systems at US$ 604bn a year, though this figure is expected to increase at an alarming pace, especially in developed countries.
A commitment to a quality of life is among the key goals that WHO want governments to achieve, with the health organisation believing that caregivers and service users should be consulted on care reforms, and that public and professional understanding of dementia needs to improve.
Prime Minister David Cameron last month confirmed the Coalition’s commitment to funding dementia research, pledging to more than double the government’s contribution to £66m by 2015 and comparing the challenge to that presented by cancer in the 70s and HIV in the 80s and 90s.
The PM said: “…we’ve got to treat this like the national crisis it is. We need an all-out fight back against this disease; one that cuts across society.”
Chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society Jeremy Hughes welcomed the PM’s commitment, saying today: “Two weeks ago, for the first time a British Prime Minister made a personal commitment to drive forward change to transform the lives of 800,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is enormous progress, but it is the beginning of the road. We must now focus our efforts on translating these commitments into better diagnosis and support, increased understanding and advancements in research.
“Today the World Health Organisation is calling for the global fight against dementia to begin. World leaders everywhere must take steps to conquer the enormous challenge of dementia. If we take action now, we can transform millions of lives.”
Image; Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to the Alzheimer’s Society on the 26th March: courtesy of the Conservative Party