News Release

Dementia Alliance International further call to recognise dementia as a disability at the United Nations

Geneva, 20 March 2017

  • Dementia Alliance International call for recognition of dementia as a disability
  • Canadian Senate reviewing bill for a national plan on dementia in 2017
  • 564,000 people live with dementia in Canada. Someone in the world develops dementia every 3 seconds

Phyllis Fehr, Board Member of Dementia Alliance International (DAI) and Vice Chair of the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (OADG), will call for further recognition of dementia on the first day of the 17th session of the United Nations (UN) CRPD Committee today. The presentation coincides with a report on the implementation of the Convention by the Canadian Government; one month after a private member's bill was introduced to the Senate calling for the development of a national plan on dementia.

Phyllis will attend the session of the committee alongside ADI consultant Nicole Batsch, after ADI and DAI jointly called for a strengthening of the recognition of dementia as a disability at a side session to the 16th session of the Committee in August 2016.

Dementia affects 47 million people worldwide and is the leading case of disability and dependence among the elderly. This number is expected to rise to 131.5 million by 2050 if effective strategies to reduce the impact of dementia are not implemented. Access to the CRPD is an essential right for people living with dementia, a severe mental and physical disability that results in the eventual loss of independence, affecting daily life.

Phyllis will represent OADG and DAI as part of the continuing efforts of both DAI and ADI to guarantee the human rights of all people living with dementia. She is expected to say,

“We […] have to improve knowledge about why human rights are important to people with dementia and why they need to fight for their rights. People with dementia need to think of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as a tool to enable them to access fundamental human rights to which they are currently excluded.

I am looking forward with great anticipation to this 17th session of the CRPD and the committee’s consideration of the initial reports submitted by Canada and other countries.”

Kate Swaffer, Chair, CEO and Co-founder of DAI first placed human rights for all people with dementia on the global stage at the World Health Organisation (WHO) First Ministerial Conference on Dementia in Geneva. In April 2016, 85 members of ADI committed to a human rights-based approach to secure the rights of all people living with dementia in partnership with DAI.

Bill C-233 for the implementation of a national plan on dementia in Canada is currently being considered by the Canadian Senate after advocacy by Alzheimer’s Society Canada, supported by ADI and members of DAI.  A WHO draft global plan on dementia is also expected to be adopted at the World Health Assembly in May 2017 and contains targets for the implementation of plans on dementia by all member states by 2025.

Read the Presentation to the 17th Session of the CRPD Committee by DAI 

Notes to editors

About Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI)

ADI is the international federation of 85 Alzheimer associations around the world, in official relations with the World Health Organization. ADI's vision is prevention, care and inclusion today, and cure tomorrow. ADI believes that the key to winning the fight against dementia lies in a unique combination of global solutions and local knowledge. As such, it works locally, by empowering Alzheimer associations to promote and offer care and support for persons with dementia and their care partners, while working globally to focus attention on dementia and campaign for policy change from governments. For more information, please visit

About Dementia Alliance International (DAI)

Dementia Alliance International (DAI) is a collaboration of like-minded individuals diagnosed with dementia providing a unified voice of strength, advocacy, and support in the fight for individual autonomy for people with dementia. DAI was established in January 2014 to promote education and awareness about dementia – in order to eradicate stigma and discrimination – and to improve the quality of the lives of people with dementia. Dementia Alliance International is the global voice of dementia. For more information, visit

About Ontario Dementia Advisory Group (OADG)

OADG are a group of people living with dementia in Ontario, Canada. Our group was formed in fall 2014 with the purpose of influencing policies, practices, and people to ensure that we, people living with dementia, are included in every decision that affects our lives. 

As people living with dementia, we have personal perspectives about dementia that no one else has. We recognize that the involvement of people living with dementia has lagged behind other groups because there are often assumptions that people living with dementia are unable to communicate their needs, wants, and perspectives with others. This has led to social exclusion, and this is something we find unacceptable. For more information, please visit