Building a global movement for change

At the Alzheimer’s Society 2019 annual conference, the WDC presented to delegates at the Oval Cricket Ground in London the need for a global movement for change.

Globally every three seconds someone develops dementia and internationally it is recognised as a severe health crisis. We know that more research is being conducted than ever before, more collaboration on policy, and more support, awareness and community action - change is happening, but is it enough?

Dementia is a global challenge. 50 million people have dementia today and that number will triple by 2050. And it not just a matter for developed nations, with more than half the people living with dementia today coming from low- and middle-income countries. This proportion will only increase over the next decade as populations age.

Speaking to delegates, WDC executive director Lenny Shallcross reflected on how we collectively face a human and financial challenge.

“The cost to the global economy will double to $30 trillion by 2030. The costs aren’t the same globally. High-income countries see more of the cost borne by the state. Low-income countries see individuals must pick up more informal care costs. And across the world dementia has a disproportionate impact on women, particularly in LMICs where women are predominantly care givers.”

One of the challenges for our movement is to move beyond the headline figures to suggest effective ways countries can manage the financial costs of dementia.

“Whilst the number of drug trial failures mean it is easy to feel despondent, the story of the last five years has been progress: there have been significant increases in funding, with the US alone increasing from $400m to over $2bn; there are new data sharing platforms such as GAAIN; 194 WHO countries agreed the first global action plan on dementia for 2017-2025; and the global delivery of dementia friends and dementia friendly communities programs.”

Despite this progress however, from understanding the basic biology of dementia through to tackling the still to prevalent perception that dementia is a natural part of ageing, there is no part of this agenda where the job is done.

Building a global movement for change means the bringing together international individuals, organisations and governments to face collective challenges and delivery collective goals: to make data sharing more accessible, to increase funding for drug development, to improve engagement with clinical trials, and to assessing the impact of dementia friendly initiatives to help people with dementia live better lives today.