As part of their G8 Presidency (which is now the G7), the UK Government sought to galvanise an all-out fightback against dementia, starting with the G8 dementia summit in December 2013. This brought together health and science Ministers from all G8 countries, world-leading experts and researchers, leaders of the global pharmaceutical industries as well as NGOs in the sector, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The summit resulted in a G8 Declaration that set out an international response to dementia and a commitment to accelerate progress towards effective treatments and cures. Central to this was the ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying medicine for dementia by 2025, and a commitment to appoint a World Dementia Envoy to help achieve this goal.
In February 2014, the UK Prime Minister appointed Dr Dennis Gillings as the World Dementia Envoy and, supported by the UK government, the WDC was established to draw together international expertise, stimulate innovation and coordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance to fund vital dementia research. Chaired by Dr Gillings, the WDC was drawn from a range of experts from research and academia, industry, the NGO sector, people living with dementia and governments.
In February 2016, the WDC re-formed to become fully independent. In doing so, it expanded to bring together the broadest range of influential global leaders from all sectors, with expertise in and experience of dementia. This followed a broad consensus that a global collaborative approach towards dementia is essential.
At this first meeting of the re-formed Council, Dr Gillings handed over the post as Chair of WDC to Dr. Yves Joanette, Scientific Director at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Aging, and Vice-Chair, Raj Long, Senior Advisor at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Our initial objective has been to overcome barriers to innovation and unlock investment around the world, in order to achieve the G8 summit’s aims to find a cure or disease-modifying medicine by 2025 while also improving care for people with dementia.
So far, we have made huge progress, setting up the Dementia Discovery Fund – the first such to bring together private, public and philanthropic investment, raising US$100 million; achieving an unprecedented collaboration of 11 international medicine regulators from 10 agencies, leading to Raj Long’s Finding a path to a cure’ report advising on how to speed up the dementia drug pathway; and the adoption of national dementia plans by 22 countries.