Dementia: a worldwide public health priority

Dementia: A Public Health PriorityThe report, published by the World Health Organisation and Alzheimer’s Disease International, calls on countries to promote a dementia friendly society, improve attitudes to and understanding of dementia, invest in health and social systems and increase dementia research.

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Key messages from the report

  • Dementia is not a normal part of ageing.
  • 35.6 million people were estimated to be living with dementia in 2010. There are 7.7 million new cases of dementia each year, implying that there is a new case of dementia somewhere in the world every four seconds. The accelerating rates of dementia are cause for immediate action, especially in low- and middle-income countries where resources are few.
  • The huge cost of the disease will challenge health systems to deal with the predicted future increase of prevalence. The costs are estimated at US$604 billion per year at present and are set to increase even more quickly than the prevalence.
  • People live for many years after the onset of symptoms of dementia. With appropriate support, many can and should be enabled to continue to engage and contribute within society and have a good quality of life.
  • Dementia is overwhelming for the caregivers and adequate support is required for them from the health, social, financial and legal systems.
  • Countries must include dementia on their public health agendas. Sustained action and coordination is required across multiple levels and with all stakeholders – at international, national, regional and local levels.
  • People with dementia and their caregivers often have unique insights to their condition and life. They should be involved in formulating the policies, plans, laws and services that relate to them.