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The Dementia explosion

12.04.2012  |  20:05

Between 2012 and 2030, the number of people living with dementia is set to rise to 65.7 million, according to figures released by the World Health Organization. Between 20 to 50 per cent of cases are diagnosed in high-income countries. Around seventy per cent of the cases are caused by Alzheimer's Disease.

Between 2012 and 2030, the number of people living with dementia is set to rise to 65.7 million, according to figures released by the World Health Organization. Between 20 to 50 per cent of cases are diagnosed in high-income countries. Around seventy per cent of the cases are caused by Alzheimer's Disease. The World Health Organization released the report "Dementia: a public health priority" on April 11, a paper co-sponsored by Alzheimer's Disease International.

The work reveals that at present there are 35.6 million patients with dementia - around 70 per cent of these with Alzheimer's Disease, which is just one of several diseases and conditions of which dementia is a symptom, this costing the world economy around 600 billion USD per year. The figure is set to rise by 2030 to almost double - 65.7 million people, placing extra strains on social costs, carers, healthcare providers and the ensuing loss of income for family members who become carers. By 2050, the number of patients with dementia is expected to triple. This leads the report to conclude that dementia is an increasing threat to global health. The WHO describes dementia as a syndrome caused by brain diseases, which affect memory, thinking processes, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The report aims "to raise awareness of dementia as a public health priority, to articulate a public health approach and to advocate for action at international and national levels" (WHO). The WHO considers that "Dementia is overwhelming not only for the people who have it, but also for their caregivers and families.

There is lack of awareness and understanding of dementia in most countries, resulting in stigmatisation, barriers to diagnosis and care, and impacting caregivers, families and societies physically, psychologically and economically". At present, only eight countries have national dementia programmes in place, these focusing on early diagnosis, increasing public awareness and reducing the stigma attached to dementia, aiming also to provide better levels of care for patients and providing caregivers with more support. Oleg Chestnov, Assistant Director-General responsible for Noncommunicable Diseases and Mental Health at WHO, declares: "We need to increase our capacity to detect dementia early and to provide the necessary health and social care. Health-care workers are often not adequately trained to recognize dementia". Only eight countries worldwide currently have national programmes in place to address dementia, according to the report, which recommends that programmes focus on improving early diagnosis; raising public awareness about the disease and reducing stigma; and providing better care and more support to caregivers. Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru.

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