World Health Organisation Ministerial Conference on Dementia

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By Dr Matthew Norton | Sunday 15 March 2015

On 16 and 17 March 2015, the World Health Organization will be hosting their first Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia. Ministers from around the world, as well as experts from the research, clinical and NGO communities, will be invited to come together for the first time to discuss the global problems posed by dementia. This represents a significant step for co-ordinated global action, as the WHO takes the reins from the UK and works to co-ordinate leadership from countries across the globe.

There has been a considerable amount of progress made globally over the last 18 months, of which Alzheimer’s Research UK has played a key role. A World Dementia Council (WDC) has been established and they have coordinated international action in 5 key areas: development of integrated regulation for dementia research; creating better finance and incentives for dementia research; improving openness of data; better care; and risk reduction.

Alzheimer’s Research UK will be present at the conference and highlighting the pioneering research initiatives that we have developed to fight dementia, as well as making the case to global leaders of the need for increased leadership and support.

Making the ‘Action’ truly global

The conference will raise awareness of the socio-economic burden created by dementia, and aim to convince governments that this impact can be avoided if the world collectively commits to placing dementia high on the global political agenda. The objectives for the conference are:

  • To highlight evidence relating to the global burden and impact of dementia on health and socio-economic outcomes.
  • To encourage governments worldwide to take action to prevent dementia and improve care services, based on current scientific knowledge, available evidence and global experience.
  • To discuss the importance of measuring dementia care and monitoring progress.
  • To stress identifying cures or disease-modifying therapies for dementia.
  • To emphasise the need for increased investment in research.
  • To review global actions undertaken between 2011 and 2014, explore possibilities of supporting global cooperation, and to move from commitment to action.

The first day will cover issues ranging from research and drug regulation to care and human rights. On the second day, ministers from around the world will come together to discuss how we can collectively move the global dementia agenda forward. It is hoped that the conference will result in a new global commitment to tackle dementia in a collaborative way.

The contribution of Alzheimer’s Research UK

We will be highlighting initiatives such as the Global Clinical Trials Fund and recently launched Drug Discovery Alliance, showcasing these as exemplars of innovation that demonstrate ways to move the international research landscape forward. We also hope to be part of a new global commitment to defeat dementia: a collaboration between governments and other third sector organisations to ensure the Global Action Against Dementia continues and builds on the progress made to date.

Information on the event

The conference is an exciting step forward for Global Action Against Dementia, and we look forward to taking part. For more information on the event, please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/meetings/2015/global-action-against-dementia/en/

Both days will be live streamed in their entirety. For those wishing to watch the conference online, please check the event page on the WHO website in the days leading up to the event.

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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.