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Dementia focus of WHO conference

March 16, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Officials from more than 40 governments, researchers, caregivers and advocates from around the world have gathered in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss the global problems posed by dementia at the World Health Organizations (WHOs) first Ministerial Conference on Global Action Against Dementia, taking place March 16 and 17.

The conference aims to raise awareness of the socioeconomic burden created by dementia and to highlight how this burden can be reduced if the world collectively commits to placing dementia high on the global public health agenda. The first day of the conference covered issues from research and drug regulation to care and human rights. On the second day, participants will discuss how to collectively move the global dementia agenda forward.

The conference is supported by the Department of Health of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as well as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. To watch the webcast, visit this link.

Before the meeting, the USAgainstAlzheimer’s organization expressed disappointment in the commitment displayed by U.S. officials.

“Despite the fact that U.S. leadership was critical to advancing the G8’s adoption of a goal similar to our own of preventing and treating Alzheimer’s by 2025, I am disappointed that our level of engagement since the December 2013 G8 Global Dementia Summit has been, to say the least, underwhelming and widely viewed as such by public and private leaders in the field,” George Vradenberg, USAgainstAlzheimer’s chairman and founder, said in a statement. “It’s critical that the United States step up its level of commitment and senior-level political participation in global Alzheimer’s and dementia meetings or we will forgo our leadership on the world stage on this critical national and global health issue and its devastating economic consequences.”

Vradenberg is attending the WHO meeting as a member of the World Dementia Council.

The WHO meeting comes on the heels of the release of 2015 National Plan recommendations by the public members of the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care and Services, a group of stakeholders from the Alzheimer’s community as well as designees from federal agencies associated with Alzheimer’s and dementia programs or initiatives. The 12 recommendations, which focus on increased research funding, clinical care and long-term services and supports, are designed to inform the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2015 update to the National Alzheimer's Project Act plan as well as broader administrative and congressional actions related to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

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