" We are thrilled the WHO has adopted the Global Plan of Action on Dementia, which demonstrates just how committed the global community is to improving dementia outcomes. "
World Health Organisation adopts global plan on dementia, renewing calls for National Dementia Strategy in Australia

The push for a National Dementia Strategy in Australia has received renewed urgency after the World Health Organisation (WHO) adopted a Global Plan of Action on Dementia, a move that has been welcomed by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW.

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Maree McCabe said a fully-funded Australian National Dementia Strategy with measurable outcomes would be a positive step toward matching the international commitments set out by The Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025, adopted by the WHO.

“We are thrilled the WHO has adopted the Global Plan of Action on Dementia, which demonstrates just how committed the global community is to improving dementia outcomes and reducing the prevalence of dementia,” Ms McCabe said.

“Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), which is the international federation of Alzheimer’s associations around the world, and of which Alzheimer’s Australia is a part, has been actively seeking ratification of a Global Plan for more than a decade, so its adoption is a significant step in taking worldwide action to elevate the priority of dementia.”

ADI and people living with dementia were consulted on the development of The Global Plan of Action on Dementia, which aims to improve the lives of people living with dementia, their families and carers, while decreasing the impact of dementia. In order to achieve this, the Plan sets out seven global action areas, with measurable targets:

  1. Dementia as a public health priority
  2. Dementia awareness and friendliness
  3. Dementia risk reduction
  4. Dementia diagnosis, treatment, care and support
  5. Support for dementia carers
  6. Information systems for dementia
  7. Dementia research and innovation

The plan was approved at the 70th World Health Assembly, and acknowledges that dementia is not a normal part of ageing and that those affected should be supported to live as well as possible.

The aim of the plan is to open a new era in understanding, care and treatment, and urges governments to act now in developing their own individual national dementia plans that are funded, implemented and monitored. Currently, only 29 governments out of the 194 WHO member states have developed such a plan.

“A fully-funded National Dementia Strategy would build-on and enhance the National Framework for Action on Dementia 2015-2019, which Australia has already adopted, and see the development of measurable outcomes to improve treatment and care options for people who are living with dementia, as well as reducing the number of Australians likely to develop dementia in the future,” Ms McCabe said.

Key features of a funded National Dementia Strategy for Australia should include increased awareness to reduce stigma and social isolation associated with dementia; risk reduction strategies which look to partner with other health promotion campaigns sharing common risk factors; timely diagnosis to connect people with dementia to the support and services they need sooner; a coordinated approach to post-diagnosis care and support; initiatives to improve the quality of care for people with dementia; end-of-life care to support the choices of people with end-stage dementia, and investment in dementia research and support for consumer involvement in dementia research.

“A plan which achieves these outcomes would go a long way toward contributing to the global targets set out in the Global Plan of Action and ensure that people living with dementia are treated with respect and dignity,” Ms McCabe said.

Ms McCabe went on to say consultation with a broad base of stakeholders was necessary, including government, people living with dementia, their families and carers, healthcare professionals, care providers, policy makers and others, in order to establish a clear plan on dementia that is based on evidence with clearly defined targets, roles and responsibilities for implementation; includes a system for effective monitoring and evaluation, and is supported by committed funds and leadership at the national level.

Trevor Crosby was diagnosed with Lewy Body dementia three years ago and since his diagnosis the 67-year-old has become a champion for living well with dementia.

“I have a busy lifestyle and have added to it in recent times,” he said.

Trevor has just completed the University of Sydney and University of NSW’s Promoting Independence in Lewy Body Dementia Through Exercise (PRIDE) trial and is a consumer reviewer for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).

He attended both the 2016 Ministerial Dementia Forum hosted by the then Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon Ken Wyatt, and the Dementia Roundtable held by Senator Helen Polley, Shadow Assistant Minister for Ageing, where he delivered the ‘big picture’ – three key priority areas for people living with a diagnosis of dementia:

  1. Funding for cure
  2. Care and quality of life
  3. Prevention

Trevor said governments needed to plan and take action now and not wait for the economic and human costs of dementia to rise.

“What’s needed is for governments to say what they’re doing about the dementia disaster,” he said.

“It’s not looming, it’s here.”

The Global Plan of Action on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025 was adopted by 194 countries of the WHO during item 15.2 of the 70th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland.

Find out more about the Global Plan, including answers to common questions, by clicking here.

To see the full draft of the plan, click here.

 Posted: May 30th, 2017
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