News Release

World Governments still too slow at tackling the dementia epidemic

Geneva, Switzerland 23 May 2018

Alzheimer’s Disease International report on national responses to dementia marks one-year anniversary of WHO’s adoption of Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025.

  • Every 3 Seconds someone develops dementia – but most people with dementia do not receive a diagnosis or support
  • Progress too slow from governments in generating national dementia plans: Global action plan sets goal for 146 states to develop a national response to dementia by 2025
  • Scale of challenge is huge, over 15 new plans needed each year to hit 2025 target, only 1 plan since 2017
  • ADI calls for greater funding to be devoted by governments towards plans

Greater progress is needed by countries to implement national plans to respond to dementia according to a report by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI).

ADI is calling on world governments to commit to developing national plans and to devote funding to plans to tackle dementia, with it set to become a trillion-dollar disease this year. Dementia is the 7th leading cause of death globally.

The recommendations come from a report by ADI, 'From plan to impact: Progress towards targets of the Global plan on dementia 2017-2025' which was released at its official side event to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 71st World Health Assembly, 'Mobilising Society: Inspiration for developing national responses to dementia' on May 23 in Geneva.

Dementia is one of the most significant global health and social crises in the 21st century, yet too often diagnosis is made late. There is no cure for dementia. 50 million people are currently living with dementia worldwide, and this figure is expected to reach 152 million by 2050 if effective risk-reduction strategies are not implemented.

The first target in the Global action plan is for 75% of WHO’s 194 Member States to have developed or updated national policies, strategies, plans or frameworks for dementia by 2025. As it stands, 27 Member States have a national plan, while 28 Member States have a plan in development.

Delegates from Australia, Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, will speak on the panel, alongside representatives from WHO and Dementia Alliance International, to the importance of developing national responses to the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025, which WHO adopted in May at last year’s World Health Assembly.

Paola Barbarino, CEO of ADI, said, “Governments must act now as national plans take time to develop and set in place and are essential in achieving tangible actions for the benefit of people with dementia and their families and care partners who don’t have time to wait. Some states such as Japan, UK and Costa Rica, have been very proactive in developing and implementing national plans and policies to combat this global epidemic. However, we have a huge challenge ahead of us, which would see us need at least 15 new plans a year to hit the 2025 target.”

Kate Swaffer, Chair, Co-Founder and CEO of Dementia Alliance International, who will also be speaking on the at the event, said: “One year since the unanimous adoption of the WHO Global action plan on dementia, it’s very positive to see more countries working towards updating or developing their national dementia plans, many now with the involvement of people with dementia and their families. We ask, most of all, that these plans are embedded with human rights and aligned to the articles of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).”

ADI will deliver an annual update on the progress of plans, followed by speakers on the development of plans in Australia, Japan, Netherlands and UK, and from Dementia Alliance and the WHO.

Notes to editors

Mobilising Society: Inspiration for developing national responses to dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease International official side event to 71st World Health Assembly

19:00-19:50, Wednesday 23 May 2018 Room IX, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland

Confirmed Panellists:

  • Paola Barbarino, CEO Alzheimer’s Disease International
  • Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse
  • Kate Swaffer, Chair, Co-Founder and CEO, Dementia Alliance International 
  • Representative of the UK Government 
  • Representative of the Department of Health, Australia
  • Representative of the Health and Welfare Bureau for the Elderly, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Japan 
  • Representative of the Netherlands Government

For interview requests and more information, please contact:

Caleb Hulme-Moir
Mana Communications
T: +64 (0) 22 069 8065

About Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI)

ADI is the international federation of 90 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. ADI 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. For more information, please visit