Global action against dementia

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By Dr Matthew Norton | Thursday 19 June 2014

The G8 Dementia Summit in December 2013 was effective at galvanising the international community and promising clear and decisive action to tackle dementia. The Summit saw international leaders launch the ‘Global Action Against Dementia’ initiative with the stated the aim of finding a disease modifying treatment or cure by 2025.

International Summits like this are great examples of the old proverb ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’. Words are great, but we desperately need action.

Dementia costs lives and huge amounts to the UK economy

Today we publish new research by the Office of Health Economics that shows the difference that could be made if we achieve the ambition of a disease modifying treatment by 2025. We have modelled an intervention that would delay the onset of dementia by five years and would become available in 2020. If we could achieve this there would be:

  • 469,000 (35 per cent) fewer people with dementia and 399,000 (35 per cent) fewer informal carers by 2030.
  • 567,000 (34 per cent) fewer people with dementia and 482,000 (34 per cent) fewer informal carers by 2040.
  • 666,000 (33 per cent) fewer people with dementia and 566,000 (33 per cent) fewer informal carers by 2050.

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An intervention that delays onset of dementia would also generate huge cost savings to the economy. A treatment made available in 2020 that would deliver a five year delay of onset would cost the economy:

  • £14.1 billion less (£24 billion compared to £38.1 billion) in 2030.
  • £21.2 billion less (£38.2 billion compared to £59.4 billion) in 2050.

The potential is huge. A disease modifying treatment would improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, both those who would have had dementia and those around them. It would also generate significant savings to the UK economy. It shows why we need action now.

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Alzheimer’s Research UK supporting the G7 legacy event

We are delighted that we have been able to work with the UK Government and the G7 to host the first legacy event promised at the Summit. This event will focus on how the global community can substantially increase investment in dementia research. It will capture the progress that has been made since December and set out activity for the coming year and beyond.

Good progress to date

Progress so far has been good. Last month saw the announcement of the World Dementia Council (WDC), chaired by the World Dementia Innovation Envoy, Dennis Gillings. The WDC will champion innovation in dementia across research into diagnosis, treatment and care and by focusing on how to unlock far greater amounts of investment.

The goal is a global investment fund, much like the one developed to combat HIV / AIDS and the meetings in June will explore how the finance world can support efforts to prevent, delay and support people to live well with dementia. The event will:

  • Bring together international experts to stimulate innovation and to co-ordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance, including exploring the possibility of developing different types investment funds to support global dementia innovation.
  • Share current models, knowledge and experience and consider how to encourage better data sharing to spread innovation

It is imperative that we see substantial increases in investment into dementia research and support and there are some really exciting potential ideas in this area. The global fight against HIV / AIDS shows what is possible when the world gets together to defeat a disease. We can do the same with dementia. This is why it is exciting that Global Action Against Dementia is pulling together so many experts from the world of finance who can actually turn the vision into reality.

As the leading dementia research charity in the UK we will be leading the way.

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About the author

Dr Matthew Norton

Dr Matthew Norton joined Alzheimer's Research UK as Head of Policy and Public Affairs in 2013 and lead on policy development and stakeholder engagement up to 2018. He has a PhD in Social Policy and experience of supporting the design and running of bio-medical and clinical research for the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Matthew has also worked as a Senior Policy Advisor at the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and prior to joining Alzheimer’s Research UK worked in policy and research for Age UK.