Dementia: the health priority across the Asia Pacific

7 November 2014

By 2050, of the 135 million people with dementia worldwide, more than half (70 million) will live in the Asia Pacific region, a new report released today by Alzheimer’s Disease International has revealed.

The report, Dementia in the Asia Pacific Region, also highlights that the Asia Pacific accounts for more than 30% of worldwide dementia costs.
Chair Elect, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Glenn Rees AM said: “The report gives more urgency to the calls for increased awareness, research, education and training in the region.
“Australia is a leader in the Asia Pacific in developing and implementing national action plans on dementia, and we are well positioned to share our own knowledge and training programs with developing countries.
“It is estimated that 58% of those with dementia currently live in low and middle income countries, and this figure is set to rise to 71% by 2050.
“Dementia is as much an issue for developing countries as it is for developed ones and it is imperative that we take a unified approach to tackle the disease.” 
The report identifies the adverse effect that the increasing dementia prevalence will have on Asia Pacific economies. The worldwide figure already totals US $185 billion and it is estimated that 70% of this amount occurs in advanced economies.
“Governments need to face this challenge and the best way to do that is to develop a comprehensive national plan after consulting all stakeholders. This could touch on awareness, education, diagnosis, research, care and treatment, and risk reduction strategies,” Marc Wortmann, Executive Director Alzheimer’s Diseases International, said.
“The good news is, with a carefully developed plan, both developed and developing countries can tackle this health epidemic.”
The report recommends to governments and other stakeholders in the Asia Pacific region, to take action in the following areas:
  1. Provide education and awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia highlighting that dementia is not a normal part of ageing but a disease of the brain.
  2. Improve the quality of life of people living with dementia by providing education to family members, paid carers and other health care professionals to ensure that the best quality of care is delivered to people living with dementia.
  3. Promote the development of health and community care systems to deal with an increasing number of people with the disease. To the best extent possible, ensure that health and community care systems are adequately equipped to provide care and treatment, provide education or professional development to family, paid carers and health care workers and adequately and continuously invest in health and community care systems.
  4. Raise awareness of risk reduction strategies which may delay the onset of the disease for some individuals, and reduce future numbers of people with dementia.
  5. Develop national dementia action plans detailing key areas for action, including research, awareness and education, improving quality of care, risk reduction, assessment and diagnosis.
  6. Promote and support further research into the health and care systems in lower and middle income countries in the development of health policy. 
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