The UK is making the fight against dementia global by hosting the first G8 summit dedicated to seeking an ambitious level of international coordination and an effective response to tackling the condition.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will use the UK’s 2013 presidency of the G8 to lead coordinated global action against what is fast becoming one of the greatest pressures on families, carers and health systems around the world.
In the UK alone, there are likely to be nearly a million people with the condition by the end of 2020. The government has already begun a national programme of action through the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, launched in 2011.
Now the UK is looking to spark a world-wide effort by inviting health ministers from G8 countries to a high-level summit in London on 11 December to discuss how they can coordinate efforts and shape an effective international solution to dementia. This includes looking for effective therapies and responses to slow dementia’s impact.
The summit will aim to identify and agree a new international approach to dementia research, to help break down barriers within and between companies, researchers and clinicians and secure a new level of cooperation needed to reach shared goals faster than nations acting alone.
They will draw on the expertise and experience of the OECD, World Health Organisation, industry, national research organisations, key opinion leaders, researchers and physicians.
Dementia research workshop
The British Embassy Tokyo hosted a dementia research workshop on 3 October 2013. In order to involve stakeholders who share a commitment to tackling the challenges of dementia in the process of developing the themes for discussion at the summit, British Embassies in all G8 countries organised workshops and the outputs from the workshops were fed back to the UK along with the results of activity in each G8 nation. The workshop facilitated productive discussions between workshop attendees from academia, industry, government, social care and patient group.
Scale of the problem
Current estimates indicate 35.6 million people worldwide are living with dementia but with the world’s populations ageing, the World Health Organisation estimates that number will nearly double every 20 years, to an estimated 65.7 million in 2030, and 115.4 million in 2050.
Much of the increase will be in developing countries. Already 58 per cent of people with dementia live in developing countries, but by 2050 this will rise to 71 per cent. The fastest growth in the elderly population is taking place in India, and their south Asian and western Pacific neighbours. In China, the burden of dementia seems to be increasing faster than is generally assumed by the international health community.
If dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy, ranking between Turkey and Indonesia.
If it were a company, it would be the world’s largest by annual revenue exceeding Wal-Mart (US$414 billion) and Exxon Mobil (US$311 billion).
The total estimated worldwide costs of dementia were US$604 billion in 2010. About 70 per cent of the costs occur in Western Europe and North America.