UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities

3 December 2016 - Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and Dementia Alliance International (DAI) are calling on governments around the world to recognise the growing impact of dementia on the United Nations (UN) International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Today is a chance to promote an understanding of all disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of people with disabilities, that includes almost 50 million people that are living with dementia around the world.

By the time you’ve read this statement, that figure will have risen by as much as 50 new cases globally – approximately one every three seconds.

As a disability, dementia limits both the person’s cognitive and physical capabilities, and may restrict their ability to actively take part in everyday activities, make decisions or access services. Researchers estimate that dementia is the leading cause of dependency and disability among older persons in both Lower and Middle Income (LMIC) and High Income Countries . Despite this, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) is not widely reflected in the dementia strategies and plans of member states in 2016.

In August of this year, a joint statement was delivered by ADI in partnership with DAI to the 16th session of the CRPD Committee in Geneva, Switzerland. The statement was accompanied by the publication of a position paper calling for governments everywhere to protect the rights of people with dementia under the convention, encouraging dementia friendly communities and combating stigma surrounding dementia.

CEO and Chair of DAI, Kate Swaffer said, "People with dementia have been campaigning for their human rights and the same access to support for their disabilities for many years, and through the global, national and local efforts of our members, and our many contributions at the WHO consultations on the Global Action Plan for Dementia, and increasing advocacy for proactive rehabilitation and disability support at the time of diagnosis, people with dementia will ultimately be afforded the same disability rights as all other people living with disabilities."

Executive Director of ADI, Marc Wortmann said, "There is no doubt that dementia can cause serious disability and people with dementia should continued to be included in society as long as possible. It is their right as citizens of their country and it is beneficial to society as a whole when people can keep their independence as long as possible."

A Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025 is currently being drafted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and contains targets for improving care, treatment and research in the 7 areas of awareness and risk reduction, national dementia plans and strategy, Dementia friendly communities, diagnosis, treatment and care, training and support, data collection and research and innovation.

ADI and DAI urge member states to plan now for the likely adoption of the plan in May 2017 to ensure a better quality of life for people living with dementia everywhere.

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