WHO backs global plan for dementia - calls for funded national dementia strategy renewed

Global Plan of Action on Dementia

The World Health Organization (WHO) adopted a Global Plan of Action on Dementia at the 70th World Health Assembly in Geneva.

Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), which is the international federation of Alzheimer’s associations around the world, and of which Dementia Australia is a part, has been actively seeking ratification of a Global Plan for more than a decade and prompted renewed calls for a fully-funded National Dementia Strategy for Australia. 

A fully-funded National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes would be a positive step toward matching the international commitments set out by The Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025, adopted by the WHO.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the Global Plan’s adoption was a significant step in taking worldwide action to elevate the priority of dementia.

“We are thrilled the WHO has adopted the Global Plan of Action on Dementia, which demonstrates just how committed the global community is to improving dementia outcomes and reducing the prevalence of dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

The Global Plan on Dementia aims to improve the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers, while decreasing the impact of dementia by setting out seven global action areas, with measurable targets.

The seven action areas include:

  • Dementia as a public health priority
  • Dementia awareness and friendliness
  • Dementia risk reduction
  • Dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support
  • Support for dementia carers
  • Information systems for dementia
  • Dementia research and innovation

“A fully-funded National Dementia Strategy would build-on and enhance the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019, which Australia has already adopted and see the development of measurable outcomes to improve treatment and care options for people who are living with dementia as well as reducing the number of Australians likely to develop dementia in the future,” Ms McCabe said.

“There is estimated to be more than 413,000 people living with dementia and it is already the second leading cause of death in Australia. Without a significant medical breakthrough, that number will soar to be more than 1.1 million by 2056. There is no time to waste. We need action now.”

Key features of a funded National Dementia Strategy for Australia should include:

  • Increased awareness to reduce stigma and social isolation associated with dementia;
  • Risk reduction strategies which look to partner with other health promotion campaigns sharing common risk factors;
  • Timely diagnosis to connect people with dementia to the support and services they need sooner;
  • A coordinated approach to post-diagnosis care and support;
  • Initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia;
  • End-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia; and
  • Investment in dementia research and support for consumer involvement in dementia research.

“A plan which achieves these outcomes would go a long way toward contributing to the global targets set out in the Global Plan of Action and ensure that people living with dementia are treated with respect and dignity,” Ms McCabe said.

Trevor Crosby was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia three years ago and since his diagnosis the 67-year-old has become a champion for living well with dementia.

Trevor’s ‘big picture’ includes three key priority areas for people living with a diagnosis of dementia:

  • Funding for cure;
  • Care and quality of life; and
  • Prevention.

Trevor said governments needed to plan and take action now and not wait for the economic and human costs of dementia to rise.

“What’s needed is for governments to say what they’re doing about the dementia disaster,” he said.

“It’s not looming, it’s here.”