WHO: Put Dementia Higher on the Agenda

 Singing lessons for elderly people with dementia in a Hunan province hospital in China. October 12, 2020.  Image: Cai Yang/Xinhua/Getty
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Singing lessons for elderly people with dementia in a Hunan province hospital in China. October 12, 2020. Image: Cai Yang/Xinhua/Getty

The global toll of dementia is rising—and so is the cost, coming in at $1.3 trillion per year.
 
The WHO released its latest status report yesterday:

  • Today, 55 million people are living with dementia
  • By 2030, there will be 78 million.
  • By 2050: 139 million.

 
Yet just 1 in 4 nations has a national policy in place to support patients and their families.

“The world is failing people with dementia,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Thursday.
 
The report implores governments to renew commitments to support patients with the wide-ranging care required to manage the devastating condition, from primary health to palliative care, Reuters reports.

  • Some 60% of people with dementia live in low- and middle-income countries—but resources to help patients are largely concentrated in wealthy countries.

 
Some good news: A recent boon in dementia research funding and improved public awareness and understanding of dementia across all regions, WHO notes.
 
Mystery: An alarming number of 9/11 first responders who, 20 years on and in their 50s, are experiencing “abnormally high rates of cognitive impairment” usually seen in much older individuals. Researchers are studying whether conditions at Ground Zero are to blame, The Washington Post reports.

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