G20 health ministers endorse dementia policy

Dementia has been recognised in a declaration by G20 Health Ministers, who have also committed to implementing national action plans.

Dementia has been recognised in a declaration by G20 Health Ministers, who have also committed to implementing national action plans.

Dementia featured heavily at the Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers, which brought together health ministers from 19 countries and the European Union, as well as invited guest countries and organisations this week.

“We recognise that dementia is one of our common challenges which has significant impacts on health, quality of life, economy and the entire society,” the Declaration states.

It also contains various important commitments around the condition, including one to “develop and implement multi-sectoral national action plans, adopting integrated approaches on dementia in line with the Global Action Plan to improve the quality of care and the quality of life of people with dementia, their families and caregivers.”

Ending centuries of invisibility

The declaration was a celebration after centuries of invisibility around the condition, Chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) Glenn Rees told Community Care Review.

Glenn Rees

The Declaration also addressed risk factors and social determinants of dementia, early detection, diagnosis, interventions and strengthening of primary health care. It also recognised the importance of including older people with disabilities in efforts to support healthy and active ageing.

Mr Rees said he is happy dementia “has finally been recognised as a public health priority in the WHO Global Plan after centuries of invisibility” and said the G20’s endorsement is crucial.

“The commitment to universal health and healthy ageing by the Health Ministers is critical to achieving a dementia friendly health system,” he said.

“The action to which all WHO members committed requires political leadership, which is why the strong endorsement of the Plan by the G20 Health Ministers is so important.”

Improving lives

The WHO Global Plan aims by 2025 to improve the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families, while decreasing the impact of dementia on communities and countries.

Areas for action include increasing prioritisation and awareness of dementia, reducing the risk of dementia, diagnosis, treatment and care, support for dementia carers, strengthening information systems for dementia, and research and innovation.

Currently there are only 32 national plans in existence against a WHO target of 146 by 2025.

“The task is to ensure healthcare for people with dementia, and this task is a priority in low- and middle-income countries where people with dementia have poor access to support and care,” said Mr Rees.

“Being inclusive of all people with disabilities, including those with dementia , is a necessary first step to protecting their human rights.”

A watershed

ADI’s Chief Executive Paola Barbarino said the Declaration of G20 Health Ministers represented “a watershed moment for ADI and the international dementia movement”.

“Everything we asked for in the last year is present in this Declaration, from policy making to awareness, risk reduction, care, support for carers, data and research,” she said.

“We know that lots of wonderful words do not make this a reality and we will continue to monitor the execution of these intentions very closely, but we are heartened and encouraged, and feel the G20 Health Ministers have really listened to our plea to create a better life for people living with dementia and their carers.”

The Okayama Declaration of the G20 Health Ministers followed the World Dementia Council, held in Tokyo on October 18, which also reiterated the need for governments to develop, implement and fully fund national dementia plans.

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