In the time it takes you to read this sentence, a new person will have developed dementia. At least 47.5 million people live with dementia worldwide and this number is growing by 9.9 million each year – the equivalent of a new case every 3 seconds.
Studies are increasingly showing that dementia is the most feared disease amongst adults. Yet it is possible to live well with the condition if the rights and needs of people with dementia are upheld and if work continues to recognise dementia as a public health priority.
An estimated 58% of people with dementia live in low or middle income countries. With numbers predicted to rise to 131.5 million by 2050, the cost (currently US$818 billion worldwide) will add significant financial strain to vulnerable countries’ budgets. People living with dementia and their families frequently face stigma and discrimination and in some parts of the world can even face violence.
Both the financial and human cost of dementia makes it a core development issue that can’t be ignored.
On the global stage momentum is beginning to build through improved collective working on research, policy making and community action. Dementia is recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a public health priority and in May 2016 the WHO Executive Board agreed to develop a draft Global Plan of Action on Dementia for consideration by the 70th World Health Assembly in May 2017. Civil society collaboration is needed to cement recent gains, working in partnership with UN agencies, champion governments and other actors.