Progress at the World Health Assembly

8 June 2011 - In May 2011, ADI representatives attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, to continue efforts for dementia to be made a global health priority.

Marc Wortmann, ADI Executive Director, describes the event and the progress made this year.

What was the key message ADI wanted to put across during the World Health Assembly?

We wanted to make clear that ageing and dementia should be involved in the discussion on Non Communicable Diseases.

Was the message heard?

Yes, we were able to distribute the declaration that was made during the Toronto conference and participate in two side events. Several government and World Health Organization (WHO) officials assured us that they feel dementia is an important topic.

What was the highlight of the event?

Two things. There was an interesting and well-attended side event organised by the German government on the topic of ageing, with very good presentations including one from Prof Martin Prince who explained the impact of dementia. Secondly, we were able to kick-off the WHO-ADI Dementia Report that should be ready by April 2012.

Explain more about the side event coordinated by the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations (IAPO).

The objective of this session was to underline the importance of patient-centered care and the involvement of patients and their organisations in health policy. We were able to combine some personal stories from different disease areas with facts and figures for dementia and multiple sclerosis. Both elements are essential to develop good policies.

How do you feel ADI’s strategy towards the WHO is progressing?

ADI has been very visible at major WHO meetings in the past three years, both regional meetings and the global assembly. Together with the data presented in our two reports on prevalence in 2009 and costs of illness in 2010, this has had a clear impact. A first result was the inclusion of dementia in the WHO mental health global action plan (mhGAP) that is now ready for implementation. The Dementia Report 2012, which will be released by the WHO and supported by ADI, will be even more important to get our cause higher on the list of priorities and will highlight the WHO’s growing commitment. Alongside the report, World Health Day 2012 on ageing and health will also be a great opportunity for the global dementia community. So, we are making progress, but we need to continue advocating to make this happen. Mobilising our worldwide network is crucial in the next phase.