Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are having an enormous and growing impact on the world economy, and will surpass $601 billion by the end of this year; over 1% of global GDP (Gross Domestic Product), says a new report " World Alzheimer Report 2010" - published by Alzheimer's Disease International. The 21st September is World Alzheimer's Day.
The report was authored by Professor Anders Wimo of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; and Professor Martin Prince, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.
Dr Daisy Acosta, Chairman of Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI), said:
This is a wake-up call that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are the single most significant health and social crisis of the 21st century. World governments are woefully unprepared for the social and economic disruptions this disease will cause.
The reports highlights the following information:
- Global costs of dementia will surpass 1% of global GDP this year
- Global costs of dementia will exceed $601 billion for the year 2010
- There will be two times as many people with dementia in 2030 as there are today
- There will be three times as many people with dementia by 2050 as there arean today
- The costs of caring for individuals with dementia will probably increase faster than the increase in prevalence. This will be especially so in developing nations.
- Although dementia is one of the costliest illnesses, research and development, as well as investments are considerably smaller than for other major illnesses which do not impact as much on national economies.
The scale of this crisis cries out for global action. History shows that major diseases can be made manageable - and even preventable - with sufficient global awareness and the political will to make substantial investments in research and care options.
Prof Anders Wimo, said:
This new Report gives us the clearest, most comprehensive picture yet of the global economic and social costs of dementia. In this World Alzheimer Report 2010, we merged the best available data and the most recent insights regarding the worldwide economic cost of dementia. This enabled us to provide more detailed estimates than before, by making use of recently available data that considerably strengthens the evidence base.
According to the authors, this new report contains the latest prevalence data available today, with current data on low and middle-income countries from the10/66 Dementia Research Group studies in China, India and Latin America.
In order to quantify the cost of informal care systems that were not included in previous impact estimates, the authors used representative population-based samples from developing nations.
Better plans are urgently required in several parts of the world for the care of millions of people with dementia.
Co-author Prof Martin Prince, said:
The care of people with dementia is not just a health issue - it is a massive social issue. This is particularly true in low and middle income countries which lack adequate systems of formal care. Governments must show greater leadership, working with all stakeholders, to drive solutions to the long term care issue.
The report stresses the following points:
- Every government throughout the world should make Alzheimer's disease and other dementias a top priority.
- National plans need to be developed in order to deal with the social and health impacts and consequences of dementia. Countries such as France, England and Australia have moved forward to develop national plans - others are urged to do so as well.
- Research & development funding should be proportionate to the economic burden of dementia - in other words, more needs to be spent on R&D. According to a recent UK study, spending should increase 15-fold to reach parity with heart disease, and 30-fold to equal cancer research.
- It is vital that governments develop policies and plans for the long-term care of individuals with dementia. Contingencies must be in place for the social and demographic trends than dementia will drive.
- The sheer scale of the challenge ahead of us needs to be discussed as a top priority in the agendas of the World Health Organization and G-20 and G-8 meetings.
What is Dementia?Dementia is the progressive deterioration in cognitive function - the ability to process thought (intelligence).
Progressive means the symptoms will gradually get worse. The deterioration is more than might be expected from normal aging and is due to damage or disease. Damage could be due to a stroke, while an example of a disease might be Alzheimer's.
Dementia is a non-specific syndrome in which affected areas of brain function may be affected, such as memory, language, problem solving and attention. Dementia, unlike Alzheimer's, is not a disease in itself. When dementia appears the higher mental functions of the patient are involved initially. Eventually, in the later stages, the person may not know what day of the week, month or year it is, he may not know where he is, and might not be able to identify the people around him.
Dementia is significantly more common among elderly people. However, it can affect adults of any age.
Dementia refers to symptoms, while Alzheimer's is a specific disease.
"World Alzheimer Report 2010"
Sources: Alzheimer's Disease International, Medical News Today archives
Written by Christian Nordqvist