Chief Executive Officer, Alzheimer’s Disease International
Lack of awareness remains the biggest issue facing the global dementia community. The WHO’s Global Plan was a watershed moment in dementia advocacy, but must be followed by longer-term change.
Dementia diagnosis’ expected to triple by 2050
One year since the adoption of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) landmark Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025, fervent global advocacy is needed more than ever to ensure governments implement and fund national dementia plans.
50 million people are now living with dementia globally and every 3 seconds, someone in the world develops dementia – a number that is expected to more than triple to 152 million by 2050.
World Alzheimer’s Month is an opportunity to recognise not only the scale of this crisis but also the often complex and ongoing needs of people living with dementia and also that of their carers.
Funding the dementia crisis
In 2018 the global cost of dementia is US$1trillion, a figure which is set to double by 2030. On a personal level, the financial impact of dementia is often hard, with families and carers losing income.
There are currently 30 national dementia plans in place, but we need the equivalent of 15 more every year to meet the target.
Women in particular, are disproportionately affected. 71% of informal or unpaid care is provided by women, impacting on earning potential and interrupting careers. Carers often have to give up work and globally it is estimated that informal care constitutes the equivalent of 40 million full-time jobs.
Many people living with dementia globally do not receive a diagnosis, and cannot access adequate support. Some countries do not have a name for Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias, especially in low- and middle-income countries. These ongoing and increasing issues go to the core of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Month campaign: Every three seconds. “Every three seconds” is about overcoming the biggest issue facing the global dementia community: a lack of awareness.
This is why the focus of this World Alzheimer’s Month is on the personal stories of those affected by dementia.
World Alzheimer’s Day
On World Alzheimer’s Day, 21 September, Alzheimer’s Disease International will release the 2018 World Alzheimer Report, titled: The State of the Art of Dementia Research: New Frontiers. This report adopts a journalistic style, emphasising that each of the 50 million people living with dementia has a voice, a story, and family and friends around them also affected by dementia. It looks at the hopes and frustrations in dementia research, the barriers and the aspirations in the search for disease treatment.
Dementia plans currently in place
The WHO’s Global Plan was a watershed moment in dementia advocacy, but watershed events must be followed by longer-term change. More global and national advocacy is needed to ensure the realisation of the target of having 146 national dementia plans by 2025. There are currently 30 national dementia plans in place, but we need the equivalent of 15 more every year to meet the target. In the last 12 months there were just two new plans.
This World Alzheimer’s Day, we implore governments to continue to implement and fund national dementia plans.