Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that are mostly progressive, affecting memory, other cognitive abilities and behaviour and interfering significantly with a person’s ability to maintain the activities of daily living.
As the global population ages, the number of people living with dementia is expected to triple from 50 million to 152 million by 2050, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has revealed.
Dementia is an umbrella term for several diseases that are mostly progressive, affecting memory, other cognitive abilities and behaviour and interfering significantly with a person's ability to maintain the activities of daily living.
Women are more often affected than men. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia and accounts for 60-70% of cases. The other common types are vascular dementia and mixed forms.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom said in a press release issued Thursday (Dec 7) that "Nearly 10 million people develop dementia each year, 6 million of them in low- and middle-income countries."
"The suffering that results is enormous. This is an alarm call: we must pay greater attention to this growing challenge and ensure that all people living with dementia, wherever they live, get the care that they need," he warned.
The estimated annual global cost of dementia, according to the press release is US$ 818 billion, equivalent to more than 1% of global gross domestic product. The total cost includes direct medical costs, social care and informal care (loss of income of carers).
By 2030, the cost is expected to have more than doubled to US$ 2 trillion, a cost that could undermine social and economic development and overwhelm health and social services, including long-term care systems, the organization warned.
The Global Dementia Observatory, a web-based platform launched by WHO Thursday will track progress on the provision of services for people with dementia and for those who care for them, both within countries and globally.
It will monitor the presence of national policy and plans, risk reduction measures and infrastructure for providing care and treatment. Information on surveillance systems and disease burden data is also included.
Dr Tarun Dua from WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse noted that "This is the first global monitoring system for dementia that includes such a comprehensive range of data." "The system will not only enable us to track progress, but just as importantly, to identify areas where future efforts are most needed."
WHO' s work on the Global Dementia Observatory is supported by the governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Commission.