Alzheimer's burden shifts to low- and middle-income countries

Dec. 8, 2013 at 12:00 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- By 2050, it is estimated there will be 135 million people living with dementia worldwide, up from 44 million today, a British non-profit group says.

The Global Impact of Dementia 2013-2050, a policy brief prepared by Alzheimer's Disease International for the upcoming G8 Dementia Summit in London, predicts a shift in the distribution of the global burden of dementia.

While previously, high-income countries witnessed the strongest visible trends, it will now become low- and middle-income countries that will feel the heaviest burden. By 2050, 71 percent of people with dementia will live in low- and middle-income countries, the policy brief said.

The summit, which begins Wednesday, aims to identify and agree to a new international approach to dementia research and policy.

The ADI, along with the Alzheimer's Society in Britain and the Alzheimer's Association in the United States, were invited to attend the meeting in London.

The policy brief also said:

-- The new data showed the current burden and future impact of the dementia epidemic has been underestimated, particularly for the Asia East and Sub-Saharan African regions. The global burden will soon shift to poorer countries.

-- The best estimates suggest 10 percent of dementia cases might be avoided by improvements in public health. Campaigns that target smoking, under-activity, obesity, hypertension and diabetes should be prioritized, along with education and other cognitive enhancement.

-- The current economic cost of dementia is $604 billion annually (2010).

-- Research must be a global priority to improve the quality and coverage of care, find treatments that alter the course of the disease and identify more options for prevention.

-- Investment into a search for a cure must be balanced with initiatives to improve access to evidence based packages of care.

-- Dementia must be declared a public health priority. Only 13 of 193 World Health Organization countries have national dementia plans in place.

-- All countries, not just those in the G8, must commit to comprehensive plans for collaborative action.

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