The year ahead for the WDC

by Lenny Shallcross

At the beginning of the last decade, in the summer of 2010, the trial for Semagacestat was canned. It was the story of the decade. There are good reasons to hope that it will not be the story of this decade. We are making progress. From the understanding of the basic science through to the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments, we are advancing. We are advancing our understanding of the development of the disease and the potential for lifestyle intervention. But today, for many people, care remains a huge challenge. And even the visibility of dementia in many countries is low.

For all the challenges, the decade ahead will be one of progress. In an era of global fragmentation, the international dementia community has collaborated more closely to advance research, improve care and increase awareness.

The WDC, with partners from around the world, has been investigating the evidence that underpins dementia friendly initiatives. One bit of the story, often overlooked, is how initiatives have been shared, copied and adapted from country to country as everything from governments to local activists seek to respond to the dementia challenge. Our international summit in Tokyo last year, ahead of the G20 health ministers meeting, convened international dementia leaders from government, academia, industry, and civil society, with a focus on accelerating progress.

For us, the year ahead begins with the publication of the report on dementia friendly initiatives this spring. The WDC will hold its council meeting this July at Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The WDC will be holding a 2020 conference this autumn. And throughout the year we will hold a series of stakeholder meetings to help inform a report for publication in early 2021, at the start of the UK’s presidency of the G7, that will review progress made since the UK last hosted the G8 dementia summit in 2013 and set the 2025 global dementia ambitions. Key policy areas for focus include data sharing, diagnosis, care research and the cost of dementia. 

At the beginning of 2010s there were 35 million people living with dementia worldwide. At the end of this decade it will be something like 75 million. It is a daunting number and a huge societal challenge, but we begin the decade with reasons to hope.  

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Lenny Shallcross is Executive Director of the World Dementia Council

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