WHO Ministerial Conference On Dementia Issues Urgent Call For Global Action

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) welcomes the outcomes of the first World Health Organisation (WHO) Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Over 80 countries joined the global call for action, the most significant expression of commitment to date.

The event held in Geneva (16-17 March 2015) was the largest meeting of high level government representatives and recognised the size of the problem of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.

The Ministerial Conference scaled up the previous commitments made by the G7 countries, providing a crucial international forum for discussions on care, treatment, awareness, human rights and best practice.  ADI participated actively in the meeting, with representatives speaking and chairing numerous sessions.

Over the two days, ministers from around the world, as well as experts from the research, clinical and NGO communities discussed the global problems posed by dementia. Participants agreed on a call to action on making dementia a global health priority and channelling the momentum on specific actions.

Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International, commented: “We need to increase efforts on research but also recognise the role of civil society organisations as key advocates for improvements in dementia care and policies. The only way forward is through co-ordinated global action. ADI is committed to work closely with the World Health Organization, OECD and national governments, creating a platform for coordinated global and national action”.

Responding to the event, Alzheimer’s Disease International coordinated a statement of over 40 civil society organisations, proposing several key recommendations for future action:

1. Ensure that people with dementia and their families are put at the centre of all policies.

2. Implement and take the necessary steps towards the ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025 as adopted by the G8 Summit in December 2013, and to increase collectively and significantly the amount of funding for dementia research to reach that goal. We suggest that every country should increase their public research budget to 1% of the amount the country spends on dementia care.

3. Increase efforts in other areas of research, such as research into effective care models; prevalence, incidence and mortality, prevention and risk reduction to a comparable level, and increase the focus on translating research into practice.

4. Recognise the value of civil society organisations including Alzheimer associations and Alzheimer research foundations as key advocates for improvements in dementia care and policies and support these organisations. This should include a role for people who are living with dementia.

5. Create and fund a dementia work stream for lower and middle-income countries and develop programmes to raise awareness and improve health system response with the inclusion of partners from those countries.

6. Facilitate further collaboration on the exchange of best practices in dementia care and creating dementia friendly communities.

7. Make risk reduction for dementia a priority and link actions, including setting of some targets and indicators, to the general work steam on non-communicable diseases that is led by the World Health Organization.