WHO holds Dementia Action Plan implementation meeting and launches the Global Dementia Observatory

Reflections from the World Dementia Council

On 11th and 12th December 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) held an international meeting in Geneva on implementation of the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025 (GAP). The meeting included presentation of the newly-launched Global Dementia Observatory (GDO) and e-tool.

The meeting was truly international. Among over 70 delegates from 45 countries across the world were people with dementia, policymakers, academic researchers and representatives of government, non-government and voluntary sector organisations. The purpose was to discuss how the GDO can be used to monitor progress in implementing GAP actions at national and global level in these domains:

1. Dementia epidemiology and costs

2. Dementia as a public health priority

3. Dementia awareness and friendliness

4. Dementia risk reduction

5. Dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support

6. Support for dementia carers

Two full members of the World Dementia Council, Yves Joanette and George Vradenburg, were present, as were participants from governments and organisations that are associate members of the Council. Other global dementia organisations also participated, including Alzheimer’s Disease International, the Global Alzheimer’s and Dementia Action Alliance and the World Young Leaders in Dementia network.

Reflecting on the meeting, Yves Joanette said, “The Council has strongly supported the GDO concept since it was first proposed, and we congratulate the WHO on its development into an effective measurement tool. Following the GDO’s launch, the meeting was a great opportunity for experts and stakeholders from around the world to dig down together on how the data amassing in the GDO can be used to drive forward our shared global agenda on dementia.

"The Council shares with other stakeholders the fundamental principle that every country should have a national plan for dementia, whether stand-alone or integrated into other relevant national plans. The best way to develop these plans is through joint working between governments, people with dementia, civil society organisations and other stakeholders, but also having regard to initiatives that are happening at global level, and what can be learned from them. This is where the World Dementia Council comes in and the meeting heard about, and welcomed, various of our initiatives.”

George Vradenburg said, “The WHO is approaching the Global Dementia Observatory in a most serious and comprehensive manner; I am impressed by the positive engagement from so many governments seeking both guidance and a peer-to-peer learning system as they develop their national response to the global challenge of dementia.”

Yves Joanette concluded, “The Council looks forward to harnessing the power of the GDO in its mission of catalysing innovations and progress that are essential to overcoming the enormous human and financial impacts of dementia.”

Examples of the Council’s initiatives.

In 2017, the Council’s Care Global Team, led by Harry Johns, published the world’s first Global Care and Support Statement. This establishes the eight important Principles of High Quality Care and Support that apply across the world, in all countries and all cultures. In early 2018, the Statement will be published in 11 languages in addition to the original English. Read the Statement here.

Raising awareness of dementia is a global aim. The media has a key role to play and for this reason, the Council has linked with the World Federation of Science Journalists. As a result and with a modest grant from the Council, the Federation has produced an online Toolkit to support journalists in reporting accurately and effectively on dementia. This was welcomed at the WHO meeting on 11/12th December. Read more here.

Reducing the risk of dementia is important to reverse the global upward trajectory in the prevalence of dementia. Our Risk Reduction Global Team, led by Ronald Petersen, is working with the Global Brain Health Institute to facilitate a risk reduction pilot project in Indonesia in 2018. 

More widely across the world, information for public and professional audiences on risk reduction must be evidence-based. Several Council members work with the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), which is translating evidence into risk reduction recommendations for people to incorporate into their lives. Read more on the GCBH reports.

Innovation in interventions for dementia relies on high-quality research. Around the world, research needs to be balanced across priorities including, among others, new therapeutics, patient engagement in research, diagnosis, and care and support. Balance depends, inter alia, on worldwide collaboration and co-ordination in research and for this reason, the Council has worked with JPND, the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Diseases Research – to facilitate its global expansion. It’s welcome news that South Korea and India have joined JPND and we hope many other countries outside the EU will follow their example. The Council participates in discussions on global research priorities, for example, Yves Joanette is a co-author in the Policy View article, Research priorities to reduce the global burden of dementia by 2025, published in The Lancet, Vol 15, November 2016.

Read the article summary online.