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Prevention and earlier diagnosis of dementia could save government money


Paola Barbarino

CCEO, Alzheimer’s Disease International

The global cost of dementia will make it a trillion dollar disease in 2018, and already exceeds the market value the world’s largest companies including Google, Exxon and Apple.

The World Health Organization (WHO) unanimously adopted the Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025, back in May. This followed 10 years of advocacy by Alzheimer’s Disease Internatiohnal (ADI) for a global response to the growing impact of dementia worldwide.

Paola Barbarino, CEO of ADI, addressed the assembly: “[Today] marks the beginning of a new era for people with dementia and their families… The current situation is unsustainable. Dementia is becoming the most expensive disease of the 21st century and we must stop this.”

Governments will need to do more to dramatically increase awareness, detection and diagnosis of dementia.

The target for 2025 is to have 145 national plans. So far, only 30 of the 194 WHO member states have developed a plan on dementia. Canada was the 30th country to develop a national dementia strategy, expected to be published in 2018. Several countries have expressed their commitment to developing a national plan, including Trinidad and Tobago, Chile, Honduras, and most recently Taiwan.


Members of Canada’s Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology adopt Bill C-233, which recommends that the Government of Canada implement a national strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. In November 2016, the committee tabled a report entitled Dementia in Canada: A National Strategy for Dementia-friendly Communities.

World Alzheimer’s Month

That is why the World Alzheimer’s Month campaign 2017 is focusing on spreading awareness about earlier diagnosis and prevention. This could save governments money, by reducing the high cost of emergency and avoidable health interventions, improving care, and by increasing the effectiveness of social, community and other care services. It could help the 50 million people living with dementia around the world and their care partners by ensuring they can live as well as possible for longer, and access the support they need.

On World Alzheimer’s Day, we are calling on the WHO and governments around the world to sustain this surge in momentum and ensure the maximum impact of the Global Plan on Dementia. We need increased urgency for the development of additional plans and policies to tackle dementia worldwide.

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