ADI attends United Nations NCDs Meeting

A message from ADI Executive Director Marc Wortmann

10 July 2014 - The United Nations will meet this week in New York to review the results of their pledges to tackle Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs). Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) will attend these meetings and aim to make dementia a priority, putting the spotlight on a disease whose global prevalence is set to treble by 2050.

Until 2011, dementia was not included in the UN's NCD program, although it shares many risk factors with other NCDs, including cancer, heart and lung disease and diabetes. The UN Summit on the same topic in September of this year put these diseases on the global health agenda. Pressure from ADI and other NGOs, mainly in the area of ageing, resulted in the addition of a paragraph in the final declaration of the meeting, highlighting the importance of mental health and Alzheimer’s disease alongside the other NCDs.

Following this, the World Health Organization developed an NCD-Plan for 2013-2020 and a Mental Health plan. Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are briefly mentioned in these plans, but there are currently no policies, measures or actions that have been taken.

ADI believes this is a missed opportunity. Dementia shares many of its risk factors with other NCDs, such as smoking, lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets all contributing to the chances of developing the disease. Alzheimer's and other dementias will be one of the greatest health crises of the 21st century, a fact that was recently recognised by the G8 Dementia Summit in London in December 2013.

We were pleased that Jason Hatke, a young Alzheimer’s and dementia advocate, was asked to testify last week at the first UN hearing for this week's summit. ADI will use this meeting as another opportunity to emphasize the importance of increasing awareness, investing more money in research and providing better care for the 44 million people with dementia around the world.

Where next?