Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia at the international level

Dementia, which includes Alzheimer's disease, affects an increasing number of people in the world every year. While Switzerland has a national dementia strategy, a large number of countries still do not consider this pandemic to be a priority.

From behind: WHO Direktor General Dr. Margaret Chan and federal Councillor Alain Berset at the Ministerial Panel on Dementia (Alzheimer's and other related diseases) in the wings of the 69th World Health Assembly, Geneva (CH), 23th of May 2016

Dementia – a rising number of cases worldwide

Dementia is a generic term denoting various diseases of the brain, with degenerative or vascular causes. Alzheimer's disease is its most frequent form. The WHO estimates that 75.6 million people will be affected by dementia by 2030 and 135.5 by 2050. This predicted increase is based to a large extent on the rise in the number of dementia cases in low and middle income countries.

A problem underestimated by a large number of countries

Dementia constitutes a major public health challenge for current and future generations. Frequently ignored or misunderstood, dementia affects individuals and their families in all the countries of the world and is proving to be a major cause of disability. The problem is found in both high income countries as well as in disadvantaged regions and generates considerable costs for healthcare systems. Despite the urgency of the situation, many governments are failing to recognise dementia as a priority.

WHO: from recognition to a plan of action

The growing prevalence of the disease throughout the world has prompted the WHO to acknowledge the importance of this issue:

  • In its report entitled "Dementia: a public health priority ", the organisation defines dementia as a major burden on public health. It calls for priority to be given to dementia as a matter of urgency. The WHO states that a long-term global effort is needed to promote action and respond to the challenges presented by the increased prevalence of dementia.
  • The WHO has also stressed the importance of know-how and best practices exchange between countries. The organisation maintains that the challenges of dementia cannot be overcome by a single country, sector or organisation acting in isolation.

It should be noted that Switzerland is very much involved in the issue of dementia. On the national level, it has introduced its National Dementia Strategy (2014-2019), while, on the international level, it has prompted the Executive Board to put forward a global action plan. It was adopted at the 70th World Health Assembly in May 2017.

Further information

Stratégie nationale en matière de démences 2014-2019

La stratégie en matière de démence vise à améliorer la qualité de vie des personnes concernées, à réduire la charge liée à la maladie et à assurer une bonne prise en charge. Pour en savoir plus: priorités et projets en cours.

Last modification 30.08.2018

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