As MPs meet in Parliament for the first time since the general election, the UK’s leading dementia research charity has outlined actions that should be taken in the first 100 days of Government to capitalise on research progress and help deliver new treatments sooner.
Dementia currently affects 850,000 people in the UK, costing the economy a staggering £24bn a year, with those numbers set to rise as the population ages. With no treatments yet able to tackle the diseases that causes dementia, the condition is the biggest killer of women and the third biggest killer of men in the UK. In recent years politicians have begun to recognise the need for research into dementia, but while funding for research has increased to £66m in 2015, a rise in spending is still needed to bring it in line with other health conditions.
The Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020, which was launched in February, included an aim for significant progress to be made towards developing a cure or disease-modifying treatment over the next five years. Alzheimer’s Research UK believes that to lay the ground to help achieve these aims, four key steps must be taken within the new Government’s first 100 days:
- Support for the creation of a dementia research strategy, to maximise investment for research
- Action to raise public awareness of lifestyle changes that can help lower dementia risk
- A commitment to implementing recommendations from the Innovative Medicines and Medical Technologies Review, set up to speed up delivery of new treatments and medical innovations
- A commitment to year-on-year increases in funding for dementia research
For every six researchers working on cancer in the UK, just one works on dementia, with a significant funding boost still needed to attract more scientists to the dementia research field. Alzheimer’s Research UK argues that a doubling of government funding is needed over the next five years, to take spending to £132m by 2020.
Hilary Evans, Director of External Affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, the UK’s leading dementia research charity, said:
“In recent years we’ve seen a global movement to take up the fight against dementia, and this is a crucial moment for the UK to ensure that this momentum continues. If we are to achieve the Prime Minister’s vision for tackling dementia and deliver on the G7’s ambition for new treatments by 2025, a new strategy for research is vital. Dementia destroys countless lives across the UK, and we owe it to those affected to keep up the fight against the condition. Alzheimer’s Research UK is leading the way with an ambitious drive to increase our own investment, and government action is also vital if we are to make real progress and transform lives.”