World failing to address dementia challenge: WHO

Health Watch
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

ONLY a quarter of countries worldwide have a national policy, strategy or plan for supporting people with dementia and their families, a report says.
The Global status report on the public health response to dementia report was released last week by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
It said half of these countries were in the WHO’s European region where many plans were expiring or had 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.
The WHO estimated that more than 55 million people (8.1 per cent of women and 5.4 per cent of men over 65 years) were living with dementia.
This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050.
Dementia is caused by a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or stroke.
It affects memory and other cognitive functions, as well as the ability to perform everyday tasks.
In 2019, the global cost of dementia was estimated to be US$1.3 trillion (about K4.62 trillion).
“Dementia robs millions of people of their memories, independence and dignity, but it robs the rest of us of the people we know and love,” WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
“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.”
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.

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