Report from OECD shows countries are failing to diagnose dementia

12 June 2018 - At a joint event today, supported by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) have released a new report on the state of dementia diagnosis and care, Care needed: Improving the lives of people with dementia.

The event will bring together a group of experts: people living with dementia, carers, policy makers, practitioners, and others, to discuss how the quality of care for people with dementia can be improved, and how health systems today can prepare to tackle dementia in the coming years.

The report gives an overview of dementia care strategies, in particular, what OECD countries have done to improve dementia care at every stage.

It also finds, however, that countries are failing to diagnose dementia, in part because many primary care doctors lack the necessary skills and training. Despite primary care services often being the first port of call, physicians average just 12 hours of dementia training during medical school and primary care doctors correctly identify only around 50-75% of dementia cases. Fewer than 40% of OECD member countries are able to estimate diagnosis rates nationally, and only two countries (the United Kingdom and Denmark) have set specific targets to improve their diagnosis rates.

As populations continue to age, the prevalence of dementia is expected to rise to 41 million by 2050 in OECD countries, and rise globally to 152 million by 2050. In the absence of a treatment or a cure for dementia, the pressures on health and social care will also increase. Improving the lives of people with dementia through diagnosis and care is not only as an important goal in itself but also because failure to do so will significantly drive up future costs.