The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, has published a report set to tackle the global rise in dementia and identify triggers for treatment, care and funding. The research shows that worldwide 44 million people live with dementia - alarmingly this figure is likely to triple by 2050, to 135 million people1.
As the report highlights, dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide. In 2010 the global cost of care reached an estimated USD604bn worldwide, equivalent to one per cent global gross domestic product - meaning if dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy2. With such huge social and financial burdens, WISH aims to lead the world's healthcare community in addressing this devastating and prevalent disease.
Global understanding of dementia lags behind other diseases, often mistaken as a normal part of aging. Whilst there continues to be a social stigma surrounding dementia, the level of necessary funding will not be addressed equivalent to the need - in the U.S. funding for HIV/AIDS research is more than five times the level of that for dementia research, despite the fact there are five times as many Americans with Dementia than with HIV.
To encourage global focus on this growing epidemic WISH chose dementia as a research theme and appointed Mr Ellis Rubinstein, President and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, as Chair of the Dementia Forum. Over the past year Mr Rubinstein has led a multidisciplinary team of distinguished experts, drawn from around the world to research and provide recommendations about the prevention and treatment of dementia focussing on three core themes; prevention, diagnosis and care, and cure.
The report explores a wide range of dementia-related issues, including the current barriers and challenges to addressing dementia, and innovative solutions; including raising public awareness, care innovations, new financial models and more effective regulatory frameworks. The report offers 10 key policy recommendations for governments to consider, aimed at improving both outcomes for individuals living with dementia and for economies struggling to pay for the costs of caring for dementia.
Mr Rubinstein said: "It's clear that there is not one simple panacea for dementia that lies just beyond our reach; rather, it will take the concerted and integrated efforts of leaders and innovators in all sectors to move the needle on this extraordinary social and economic challenge. This is why we are counting on WISH."
Professor The Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH, said: "The social and economic burden of dementia is clear enough today. Yet the future costs to societies and economies will be enormous without significant intervention now to change the course of this global disease. It is the aim of WISH to offer evidence-based actionable recommendations to health-minsters and policymakers globally so that we may all work to reduce the prevalence of this disease."
Dementia is one of eight reports being presented at the 2015 WISH Summit taking place in Qatar, where leading international health experts are joining an influential community of heads of state, government ministers, academics, clinicians, policy makers and business leaders have met to discuss innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges.
As well as Dementia, WISH will publish reports on Communicating Complex Health Messages, Diabetes, Delivering Affordable Cancer Care, Patient Safety, Universal Health Coverage, Mental Health and Wellbeing in Children, and Maternal and Newborn Health.
To download the reports and watch the research discussions taking place at WISH, please visit www.wish.org.qa.