WHO news release: World failing to address dementia challenge

4 September, 2021

Read online: https://www.who.int/news/item/02-09-2021-world-failing-to-address-dement...

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WHO news release: World failing to address dementia challenge

2 September 2021 News release Reading time: 4 min (1026 words)

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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “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.”

More support needed, particularly in low- and middle-income countries...

New initiative to better coordinate dementia research...

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.

The ‘Global status report on the public health response to dementia’ takes stock of progress made to date towards the 2025 global targets for dementia laid out in the WHO’s ‘Global Dementia Action Plan’ published in 2017...

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Comment (NPW): Just as with every health issue, it is important to meet the information needs of the public, health workers and policymakers to support health care in the home and facility, and to deliver quality health services. I look forward to hear your experience and perspectives on evidence-informed policy and practice in relation to dementia.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator, neil@hifa.org www.hifa.org