WHO backs Global Plan for Dementia renewing calls for funded National Dementia Strategy

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Media Release

Tuesday 30 May 2017

WHO backs Global Plan for Dementia renewing calls for funded National Dementia Strategy

The push for a National Dementia Strategy received renewed urgency today after the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a Global Plan of Action on Dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Maree McCabe said a fully-funded National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes would be a positive step for Australia toward matching the international commitments set out by The Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025(link is external), adopted by the WHO today.

“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.

“Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), which is the international federation of Alzheimer’s associations around the world, and of which Alzheimer’s Australia is a part, has been actively seeking ratification of a Global Plan for more than a decade, so its adoption today is a significant step in taking worldwide action to elevate the priority of dementia.”

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:

  1. Dementia as a public health priority
  2. Dementia awareness and friendliness
  3. Dementia risk reduction
  4. Dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support
  5. Support for dementia carers
  6. Information systems for dementia
  7. Dementia research and innovation

“A fully-funded National Dementia Strategy would build-on and enhance the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019(link is external), 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 413,0001 people living with dementia and it is already the second leading cause of death in Australia.2 Without a significant medical breakthrough, that number will soar to be more than 1.1 million by 2056.1There 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.

Ms McCabe said consultation with a broad base of stakeholders was necessary, including government, people living with dementia, their families and carers, healthcare professionals, care providers, policy makers and others, in order to establish a clear plan on dementia that:

  • Is based on evidence with clearly defined targets, roles and responsibilities for implementation;
  • Includes a system for effective monitoring and evaluation, and
  • Is supported by committed funds and leadership at the national level.

“Dementia is expected to cost Australia $14.6 billion this year alone and increase to more than $36.8 billion by 2056.1 While the risk of dementia does increase with age, dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing. There are things you can do to reduce the risk of dementia. A five per cent reduction in the incidence of dementia could save more than $120 billion by 20561,” Ms McCabe said.

“Action on dementia is the responsibility of us all.”

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.

“I have a busy lifestyle and have added to it in recent times,” he said.

Trevor has just completed the University of Sydney and University of NSW’s Promoting Independence in Lewy Body Dementia Through Exercise (PRIDE) trial and is a consumer reviewer for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

He attended both the 2016 Ministerial Dementia Forum hosted by then Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt, and the Dementia Roundtable held by Senator Helen Polley, Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing, where he delivered the ‘big picture’ – 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.”

1 The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling NATSEM (2016) Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056
2 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2015) Causes of Death, Australia, 2015 (cat. no. 3303.0)

Media enquiries:

Sonia Byrnes
0407 019 430
[email protected](link sends e-mail)

Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 413,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than 1.1 million in 40 years. 

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500
An interpreter service is available
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

Media resources and additional information: