Only a quarter of countries worldwide have a national policy, strategy or plan for supporting dementia patients and their families.

This was the major finding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) report about public health response to dementia, released on Thursday.

It has been estimated that more than 55 million people worldwide (8.1pc women and 5.4pc men over the age of 65) are living with dementia, a neurological disorder that causes memory loss and costs the world $1.3 trillion a year. This number is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050. .

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO said, “The world is failing people with dementia, and that hurts all of us.” He said that concerted action is required to ensure that people with dementia are able to live with “the support and dignity they deserve.”

Care required for people with dementia includes primary health care, specialist care, community-based services, rehabilitation, long-term care, and palliative care. While most countries (89 percent) reporting to WHO’s Global Dementia Observatory say they provide some community-based services for people with dementia, provision is higher in wealthy countries.

“Dementia truly is a global public health concern and not just in high-income countries. In fact, over 60% of people with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries,” Katrin Seeher, an expert in WHO’s department of mental health, told a news briefing.

Medication for dementia, hygiene products, assistive technologies and household adjustments are also more accessible in high-income countries.

Informal care accounts for about half the global cost of dementia, while social care costs make up over a third. In low and middle-income countries, most dementia care costs are attributable to informal care (65 percent). In richer countries informal and social care costs each amount to approximately 40 percent.

Access to information, training and services, as well as support, is important for caregivers as well. Currently, 75 percent of countries report that they offer some level of support for caregivers, although again, most of them are high-income countries.

“To have a better chance of success, dementia research efforts need to have a clear direction and be better coordinated,” said Dr Tarun Dua, head of the Brain Health Unit at WHO, adding: “This is why WHO is developing the Dementia Research Blueprint, a global coordination mechanism to provide structure to research efforts and stimulate new initiatives.”

An important focus of future research efforts should be the inclusion of people with dementia and their caregivers and families.

From : pk.mashable.com

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