Dementia cases to triple by 2050, still largely ignored: WHO
Nearly 35.6 million people are living with dementia around the world currently, a number likely to triple in the next three to four decades, whereas insufficient attention has been directed to the illness, according to a report released Wednesday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer's Disease International.
The report, "Dementia: a public health priority," said the number of dementia patients worldwide was expected to double by 2030 and more than triple by 2050.
Dementia is a syndrome caused by a variety of brain illnesses that affect memory, thinking, behavior and ability to perform everyday activities. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia and possibly contributes to up to 70 percent of cases.
The report said 58 percent people with dementia lived in low- and middle-income countries and the figure was likely to rise to more than 70 percent by 2050.
Treating and caring for people with dementia currently cost the world more than 604 billion U.S. dollars per year and only eight countries worldwide currently had national programs in place to address the illness, it said.
The report pointed to a general lack of information and understanding about dementia which fueled stigma and in turn contributed to the social isolation of both the person suffering from dementia and their caregivers, and could lead to delays in seeking diagnosis, health assistance and social support.
It recommended that programs focus on improving early diagnosis, raising public awareness about the disease and reducing stigma, and providing better care and more support to caregivers.
"Public awareness about dementia, its symptoms, the importance of getting a diagnosis, and the help available for those with the condition is very limited. It is now vital to tackle the poor levels of public awareness and understanding, and to drastically reduce the stigma associated with dementia," said Marc Wortmann, Executive Director of Alzheimer's Disease International. /Xinhua