Today, 29 May 2017, the WHO Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025 was adopted by the 70th World Health Assembly with the unanimous support of Member States.
The Action Plan is a real breakthrough in the realisation of dementia as a global health priority and signals a turning point for the millions of people affected by dementia worldwide. It sets a challenge to governments to recognise dementia as a public health priority and to utilise the Plan as an invaluable framework for developing national strategies.
The Plan recommends global targets and activity under seven areas for action: dementia awareness, risk reduction, diagnosis, care and treatment, support for care partners and research.
The process follows a WHO consultation, taking in views of Member States, civil society, people with dementia and other stakeholders. GADAA and its members participated in this process.
Nearly 50 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. Global interest in dementia is growing, with comparisons drawn to the early stages of global movements on HIV/Aids and cancer. However, there is still a long way to go.
Amy Little, GADAA Executive Lead commented, “the Global Dementia Action Plan recognises the need for a broad spectrum of partners for successful implementation. We urge civil society to get behind the Plan – the GADAA network will work to support global iNGOs to respond to the global dementia challenge.”
The Action Plan was welcomed by Alzheimer’s Disease International Executive Director Paola Barbarino in her plenary statement. Paola Barbarino said, “this is becoming the biggest and most expensive disease of the twenty-first century.” Calling for 1% of the $3 trillion societal cost of dementia to be committed to funding research including for care improvements, prevention and risk reduction, drug development and public health, Barbarino rallied, “this is start of a new era.” The ADI statement also referenced the important role of the Global Alzheimer’s & Dementia Action Alliance (GADAA) and Dementia Alliance International.
GADAA co-hosted a side event at the World Health Assembly in partnership with Switzerland, Alzheimer’s Disease International and Dementia Alliance International. It was attended by Member States, WHO, civil society and wider stakeholders.
Speaking at the side event, WHO’s Dr Shekhar Saxena declared “the Global Plan belongs to all of us.” He urged Member States and partners including civil society to “look at the Action Plan very carefully and look at where you can contribute,” urging that “the commitment that is being shown on the Action Plan needs to be converted into action.”
Kate Swaffer, Chair and CEO of Dementia Alliance International called for a human rights approach to dementia, “we ask for the support of governments to ensure the 50 million people living with dementia and the 100 million expected to have it by 2030, have access to their rights under international law on the same basis as every other person.” Dementia Alliance International members are increasingly concerned that the 168 Member States to have ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are not including persons with dementia in its implementation.
Read a report on the WHA side event here.