Only a quarter of countries worldwide have a national policy, strategy or plan for supporting people with dementia and their families, according to the WHO’s ‘Global status report on the public health response to dementia’, released today. Half of these countries are in WHO’s European Region, with the remainder split between the other Regions. Yet even in Europe, many plans are expiring or have already expired, indicating a need for renewed commitment from governments.

At the same time, the number of people living with dementia is growing according to the report: WHO estimates that more than 55 million people (8.1 % of women and 5.4% of men over 65 years) are living with dementia. This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050.

Dementia robs millions of people of their memories, independence and dignity, but it also robs the rest of us of the people we know and love. The world is failing people with dementia, and that hurts all of us. Four years ago, governments agreed a clear set of targets to improve dementia care. But targets alone are not enough. We need concerted action to ensure that all people with dementia are able to live with the support and dignity they deserve.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization.

The report highlights the urgent need to strengthen support at national level, both in terms of care for people with dementia, and in support for the people who provide that care, in both formal and informal settings.

To have a better chance of success, dementia research efforts need to have a clear direction and be better coordinated. This is why WHO is developing the Dementia Research Blueprint, a global coordination mechanism to provide structure to research efforts and stimulate new initiatives.
Dr Tarun Dua, Head of the Brain Health Unit at WHO


An important focus of future research efforts should be the inclusion of people with dementia and their carers and families. Currently two-thirds of countries reporting to the Global Dementia Observatory involve people with dementia “rarely” or not at all.

More positively, countries in all regions have made good progress in implementing public awareness campaigns to improve public understanding of dementia, with strong leadership by civil society. Two-thirds of countries reporting to the Observatory have run awareness-raising campaigns. And two-thirds have taken action to improve the accessibility of physical and social environments for people with dementia and to provide training and education to population groups outside the health and social care sector, such as volunteers, police, fire services and first responders.

 

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WHO

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www.who.int