The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) has hosted a meeting where a select group of summit delegates discussed strategies to improve the care and monitoring of those suffering from dementia. Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) provided secretariat support to the meeting, which was held in Hamad Medical City.
The meeting was an opportunity for regional dementia leads to share their successes and challenges in tackling a growing public health concern for the Middle East. According to the WHO, the number of people with the condition is expected to almost double in the region by 2030 to 4.4 million people.
The meeting focused on how the development of coordinated regional and country-level action can improve the care and monitoring of dementia. There was a particular emphasis on the need for greater awareness, the need to address stigma, and the importance of research and innovation in strengthening policies.
Egbert Schillings, Chief Executive Officer of WISH, said: “Qatar has taken a leadership role regionally on the issue of dementia by choosing to be a pilot country in the WHO’s Global Dementia Observatory. It involves understanding the true prevalence of this devastating condition in the national population, its impact on caregivers and the community, and helping prepare the healthcare system so it can meet this rapidly growing challenge. While the demographics are still favourable locally, globally there is a new case of dementia every four seconds. The associated costs are unsustainable as well. In fact, if dementia care were a country, it would be the world’s 18th largest economy. That’s why all healthcare systems need to be proactive, even if the current burden of the disease is still quite low. For WISH, dementia has been a focus area since our landmark 2015 report and we are proud to support local leaders in getting ahead of the curve.”
The meeting encouraged ministerial action to improve dementia care and service by drawing upon global experience. By raising awareness of the disease, the meeting also enabled closer collaboration nationally and internationally.
Dr Shekhar Saxena, WHO Director of Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said: “Dementia is a truly global issue; the vast majority of persons living with dementia are in low and middle income countries and these are the countries that will show the most rapid rise of prevalence in the coming years. Realising the importance of this public health issue, the World Health Assembly, consisting of ministers of health, is likely to discuss this issue in May 2017 and adopt a global action plan on the public health response to dementia.”
WISH is strongly committed to highlighting the growing problem of dementia as a global public health challenge. The WISH 2015 forum report, titled ‘A Call to Action’, outlines key issues in understanding dementia and the need to tackle the burden globally. WISH has provided a range of support to Qatar’s health leaders in developing policy and provision of care.