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Three-quarters of WHO Member States fail to reach dementia targets

Global advocacy federation Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) is leading the charge on calls to extend the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia, following the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly held in Geneva this week.

<p>Despite recognising the problem Alzheimer’s disease and dementia present as the ageing population increases, few countries have prioritised their efforts. (Source: Shutterstock)</p>

Despite recognising the problem Alzheimer’s disease and dementia present as the ageing population increases, few countries have prioritised their efforts. (Source: Shutterstock)

Key points:

  • Over the last six years, roughly 20 percent of World Health Organisation (WHO) Member States have developed Dementia Action Plans
  • Despite the lack of progress, all 194 States agreed on the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017 – 2025
  • Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) says that over 100 new plans can’t be created in a span of just two years

ADI’s latest report, ‘From Plan to Impact VI’, shows that only twenty percent (39 out of 194) of all World Health Organization (WHO) Member States have followed through with their 2017 promise to create a National Dementia Plan (NDP) by 2025.

In 2017, all 194 WHO Member States unanimously agreed to address the growing risk and threat of dementia and adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017 – 2025 which aimed to improve the lives of those living with dementia as well as their carers while minimising the impacts of the neurological condition on communities.

Bafflingly, two Group of 7 (G7) countries — the nations which are supposed to be world models for policy — France and the United Kingdom have failed to progress beyond the early stages of developing a plan, as per the agreed upon response which is set to reach the deadline in just two years.

ADI Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Paola Barbarino feels disappointed that the deadline needs to be extended to 2029 in order to create over 100 new plans, due to inaction over the past six years.

“We know hard work goes into creating and upholding NDPs, but people living with dementia worldwide are the ones who pay the price when governments turn a blind eye to their situation,” says Ms Barbarino.

In 2019, Australia had over 348,000 estimated cases of dementia. This is projected to rise 128 percent by 2050 to over 796,000 cases. Last year, dementia was the second leading cause of death in Australia and the leading cause of death for women, yet Australia’s NDP is still in its development stage.

“[…] More enlightened governments sometimes feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to begin to attempt to solve the multifaceted challenges that dementia presents on their [sic] society,” says Ms Barbarino.

“Our advice to such governments is simple: perfection should not be the enemy of good. Starting somewhere is important and each policy change, no matter how small, contributes to improving the lives of those living with dementia and their carers, as well as helping to address the pressure that dementia presents on the wider society.”

Recently, successful phase-three results for amyloid-targeting drugs have shown promise for treating Alzheimer’s disease, but without a plan in place, the ADI federation believes that people in need may not see the benefits of a rollout.

“Time is of the essence with these emerging treatments. Early detection is the key, and healthcare systems are ill prepared,” says Ms Barbarino. “What good is having a treatment if people can’t access it? Urgent planning is required to roll out these critical dementia therapies for people living with dementia.”

The number of people living with dementia worldwide is forecast to rise to 139 million by 2050 according to the WHO. Yet, the number of National Dementia Plans implemented hasn’t changed since 2022.

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