ADI at UN Commission for Social Development

15 February 2013 - On Monday 11 February, Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) attended the 51st session of the United Nations Commission for Social Development in New York, USA.

Raymond Jessurun, founder of the Sint Maarten Alzheimer Foundation, alongside ADI Policy Adviser, Michael Splaine, attended the meeting during which a statement from ADI was delivered. The issues under discussion at the session were promoting empowerment of people in achieving poverty eradication, social integration and full employment and decent work for all.

The following statement was delivered by Raymond Jessurun:

Madam Chairperson and distinguished delegates,

As founder and board member of an Alzheimer's organisation in the small country of Sint Maarten in the Dutch Caribbean, and as a caregiver, I understand empowerment and social integration. Throughout the world our 78 national Alzheimer’s organisations are aiding persons with dementia and their families by empowering them with information, skills, mutual support and are advocating for social protection and realisation of their rights as vulnerable persons in our world.

Dementia is becoming the epidemic of this century. Every 4 seconds there is a new case of dementia somewhere in the world. Member states have recognised Alzheimer’s disease and dementia as a major NCD in the 2011 first UN high level meeting on non-communicable diseases (NCDs). The WHO - ADI report on dementia launched in April 2012 recommends all member states to make dementia a public health priority. But the Global and Regional Action Plans on NCDs and the Global and Regional Action Plans on Mental Health for 2013-2020 have not yet incorporated dementia as a major NCD.

Age is one of the main risk factors for dementia. It is true that older persons are most affected by dementia and other non-communicable diseases. Dementia though is not a normal part of ageing. Also younger adults are increasingly being diagnosed with early onset dementia. Worldwide 36 million persons are living with dementia, roughly the same amount of persons living with HIV/AIDS. And there are still millions of persons that have not been diagnosed yet because of stigma and ignorance. Ageing will double the amount of persons affected by dementia by 2030 if left unattended.

The Madrid International Action Plan on Aging had as actions to develop effective strategies to increase the level of quality assessment and diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and related disorders at an early stage, and programmes to help persons with Alzheimer’s disease to live at home for as long as possible and to respond to their health needs.

ADI wants to recommend member states to prioritise dementia and Alzheimer’s in the ageing agenda of the coming five years. Addressing the risk factors for dementia and Alzheimer’s (as these are the same risk factors as for cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes) and starting surveillance of dementia are key elements of national action plans on dementia recommended by the 2012 WHO Dementia report. National dementia action plans will empower our communities to face the multiple challenges for persons and family members living with dementia to be appropriately addressed in early and advanced stages of the disease.

As a board member of older persons organisations in Latin America and the Caribbean I know that seniors want to live in their own environment as long as possible. Keeping loved ones with dementia home as long as possible may reduce the cost of institutional care for dementia, but to empower family caregivers to provide dementia care demands social and financial facilities from society.  Dementia care demands a huge social and financial sacrifice of families, society and social economic development, as seen in high income countries.

To provide universal health care, social protection and poverty eradication in lower and  middle income countries is already challenged. To provide the highest attainable level of dementia care poses even more challenges on economic and social development in these countries.  ADI therefore recommends member states to prioritize aging, poverty eradication and sustainable development in the post 2015 MDG agenda, to guarantee worldwide optimal social and health care facilities for all and for family members and persons living with dementia in particular.

Thank you

View Raymond Jessurun delivering the statement (at 02:53 hours).