Swedish Government commits to develop national dementia strategy

06 June 2018 - The Swedish government announced the intended launch of a national Dementia Strategy in 2018 during the World Health Assembly in May. Alzheimer Sverige has advocated for the Strategy for several years, welcoming the news in the same week as an official ADI side event urged more WHO Member States to adopt plans on dementia.

It is estimated that 150,000 people are living with dementia in Sweden. The Swedish Government expects this figure to increase by over 50% by 2050. The number of individuals aged over 80 years is also expected to increase substantially, accounting for 15% of the total population, or a million people, by 2030.

Lena Hallengren, Swedish Minister for Children, the Elderly and Gender Equality explained the underlying intention from the Swedish Government: "Equality in care for persons with dementia will require a national standardized care-process applied by all Swedish communities, equal for all Swedish persons with dementia, going forward.

"In order to find and help persons with dementia from first diagnosis to care and treatment, a substantial competence-lift is required within the health-system ... Currently, most care of patients with dementia takes place in the social services sector targeted at the elderly, in the severe stages of the disease, where assisted care-home staff are not trained to discern or meet the needs of the person with dementia or the surrounding care-givers. The Dementia Strategy therefore consists of key areas; cooperation between health-care and social services, staff-quality, competence building, evaluation and follow up, support for care-givers, involvement of civil society and digitalization."

The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare has been allocated the task of creating this standardised care-process, including looking at the long-term strategic issues that may arise in the finalised Swedish Dementia Strategy. A first outline of the work plan is expected to be presented to the Swedish Government in October 2018, to run to June 2022.

Globally, 32 countries and territories have adopted a plan on dementia. Many have worked with Alzheimer associations and ADI to develop key components and share best practice. In 2017, the World Health Organization adopted a Global plan with a target of 146 Member States developing their own policies on dementia. Sweden is the 28th Member State to commit to a plan since 2001.

Alzheimer Sverige have assembled substantial knowledge of care and quality of life issues for people with neuro-degenerative conditions since the 1980s, working in cooperation with global NGOs like ADI.

Krister Westerlund, President of Alzheimer Sverige said, "Working for Alzheimer Sweden, I am delighted to see our that government has taken this decision! I was happy to read about that they put emphasis on a health-system competence-build with a long-term focus, and in that process, that the Swedish government are opening up to a European and International school of thought about neuro-degenerative diseases."

The future Swedish dementia strategy has much to gain from knowledge about individuals with Mild Cognitive Impairment and those with early onset dementia in particular. The association urge that the Strategy also includes attention to quality of life through all the stages of dementia.

Where next?