In the forward to the National Dementia Strategy for the UK, the former Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson writes:
Dementia is not an illness we can ignore. It has a devastating impact on the people who develop it, and the families who care for them. We all know someone who has been affected, be it a relative, friend or work colleague. It also affects more and more of us each year, as the numbers affected rise with an ageing population. That is why the Government has made dementia a national priority. The publication of the first National Dementia Strategy is a key step towards achieving the goal of building health and social services for dementia that are fit for the 21st century.
Statements like this, as well as the fact that countries like France, Netherlands, and Denmark have already released similar dementia strategies, demonstrate that Europe and its neighbors recognize the threat dementia poses and are taking active steps to address it. Yet not all EU members are equally prepared. Spain, for example, has no national dementia strategy, a fact that could soon change.
On May 19th, the Spanish health minister, Alfonso Alonso, pledged to draft a National Neurodegenerative Diseases Plan by the end of the year. The announcement came on the heels of an Alzheimer’s report released last month, which includes more than 20 recommendations on how to improve the diagnosis, care and support provided to people living with dementia and their families. The report, a collaboration between the CEAFA and Lilly, emphasises the following needs:
- to create a national census of people with dementia in Spain
- to address the existing variability and inequalities in access to health care services and social support in Spain
- and to improve the coordination between health and social services systems.
As we’ve said before, where you live should not dictate your quality of care. With over 47.5 million dementia sufferers worldwide, including 8.7 million in the EU, improving access to dementia services remains a top priority, but will only be possible through collaboration and research. Lilly is committed to this effort in many different ways: encouraging participation in clinical trials, providing scientific input, and supporting others who have called for a European dementia strategy. More than 400 researchers believe that we can prevent and effectively treat Alzheimer’s by 2025. Reaching this point will take a collaborative effort with governments to benefit the quality of life of patients with dementia.