Dementia poses a threat to global health on the same scale as HIV and AIDS, the Dutch government has said, warning that the number of people with the condition will not be far away from Germany's population by 2030.
a speech to Summit of the World Democracy Council in Japan on Friday, Hugo de Jonge, the Dutch Minister of Health, said that dementia was underfunded, misunderstood and overlooked, since HIV and AIDS were in its early days.
"Only when it became clear how quickly the HIV / AIDS epidemic took hold … took millions of lives around the world, did a global awareness arise," De Jonge said. "An enormous sense of urgency arose … and about 1
" Today we are on the verge of another epidemic; not a disease that attacks our immune systems, but our brain, our memory, our personality, ourselves. Like HIV / AIDS in its early days, dementia is a globally underfunded area of medicine. "
He pointed out that if all people who believed that dementia lived in a country it would be about the size of Spain, citing predictions that by 2030 this hypothetical nation would contain nearly 75 million people. "Then it should become a member of the G7," De Jonge said.
"The cost of dementia care at that time is estimated at a staggering $ 2 ton (£ 1.6 ton). No one should be in doubt: dementia is one of the biggest medical and social challenges we will face in the coming years. In some countries it is already the main cause of death. "
The challenge is particularly relevant in the Netherlands, which has an aging population of just over 17 million people, of which 280,000 have some form of neurological impairment such as dementia. or Alzheimer's disease.
Prof Philip Scheltens, director of the Alzheimer's Center at the UMC Teachers Hospital in Amsterdam, has been lobbying the Dutch government for serious investments in research.
"The comparison with aids is often made," he said. “The urgency is extremely enormous, as it was at the time, although it may be better to compare it to cancer. There is still no medicine and we have to go back to the board to understand dementia. The worldwide budget must go up. "
The Netherlands will also require other countries at the Ministerial Health Meeting G20 this weekend in Okayama, Japan, to participate in a joint research program. In July next year, Amsterdam will host a strategy summit for 6,000 researchers.
Lenny Shallcross, CEO of the World Dementia Council, which was at the Japan Summit, said: “Dementia is the biggest health challenge of the 2000s. "
Hilary Evans, CEO of Alzheimer's Research UK, said the AIDS comparison was appropriate.
"One in three people born today will develop this devastating condition during their lifetime, unless we find new ways to prevent and treat the disease," she said.
"We have seen what can be successfully achieved in other areas of health through a movement of people who come together to demand change, tackle stigma and drive radical and lasting increases in research funding.
" Thanks to this research investment, HIV is no longer a terminal condition in many countries today, and research has changed so many lives, and we want to see the same for dementia and the 50 million people worldwide affected by the condition. "