World Governments still too slow at tackling the dementia epidemic

World Governments still too slow at tackling the dementia epidemic

24 May 2018

This week Global Alzheimer’s & Dementia Action Alliance (GADAA) co-founder and Steering Committee member, Alzheimer’s Disease International, reported on national responses to dementia to mark the one-year anniversary of WHO’s adoption of Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025.

  • Every 3 Seconds someone develops dementia – but most people with dementia do not receive a diagnosis or support
  • Progress too slow from governments in generating national dementia plans: Global action plan sets goal for 146 states to develop a national response to dementia by 2025
  • Scale of challenge is huge, over 15 new plans needed each year to hit 2025 target, only one WHO Member State plan since 2017
  • ADI calls for greater funding to be devoted by governments towards plans

More Urgency Needed

Greater progress is needed by countries to implement national plans to respond to dementia according to a report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).

ADI is calling on world governments to commit to developing national plans and to devote funding to plans to tackle dementia, with it set to become a trillion-dollar disease this year. Dementia is the 7th leading cause of death globally.

The recommendations come from a report by ADI, which was released at its official side event to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 71st World Health Assembly (WHA),Mobilising Society: Inspiration for developing national responses to dementia on May 23 in Geneva.

Dementia is one of the most significant global health and social crises in the 21st century, yet too often diagnosis is made late. There is no cure for dementia. 50 million people are currently living with dementia worldwide, and this figure is expected to reach 152 million by 2050 if effective risk-reduction strategies are not implemented.

15 New Plans a Year

The first target in the Global action plan is for 75% of WHO’s 194 Member States to have developed or updated national policies, strategies, plans or frameworks for dementia by 2025. As it stands, 27 Member States have a national plan, while 28 Member States have a plan in development.

Delegates from Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, spoke on the WHA side event panel, alongside representatives from WHO and Dementia Alliance International, to the importance of developing national responses to the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025, which Member States unanimously adopted at last year’s World Health Assembly.

Paola Barbarino, CEO of ADI, said “Governments must act now as national plans take time to develop and set in place and are essential in achieving tangible actions for the benefit of people with dementia and their families and care partners who don’t have time to wait. Some states such as Japan, UK and Costa Rica, have been very proactive in developing and implementing national plans and policies to combat this global epidemic. However, we have a huge challenge ahead of us, which would see us need at least 15 new plans a year to hit the 2025 target.”

Kate Swaffer, Chair, Co-Founder and CEO of Dementia Alliance International, who also spoke at the event, noted: “One year since the unanimous adoption of the WHO Global action plan on dementia, it’s very positive to see more countries working towards updating or developing their national dementia plans, many now with the involvement of people with dementia and their families. We ask, most of all, that these plans are embedded with human rights and aligned to the articles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).”

General Programme of Work

At the 71st World Health Assembly this week Member States agreed the WHO General Programme of Work 2019-23 (GPW) which sets out the World Health Organisation’s strategic plan for the next five years. The plan includes dementia for the first time, recognising that dementia must be prioritised in global health as a leading cause of death and disability worldwide.

Time is now

International civil society organisations also have a major role to play in global action on dementia and can join the Global Alzheimer’s & Dementia Action Alliance to work with other iNGOs on this urgent cause.

Without action we risk being too slow to support the most underserved and marginalised people.

The time is now for governments and international civil society actors around the world to get behind this global challenge and unite for a world where no one is left behind because of dementia.