Dementia poses a threat to global health on the same scale as HIV and AIDS, the Dutch government said, warning that the number of people with the disease would not be far from the population of Germany by 2030.
At the summit of the World Dementia Council in Japan on Friday, Hugo de Jongge, the Dutch health minister, said dementia was underfunded, misunderstood and neglected since HIV and AIDS were in their early days.
"It is only when it becomes clear how quickly the HIV / AIDS epidemic has managed … it has taken millions of lives around the world, has global awareness emerged," says De Jongge. "There was a great sense of urgency … and about 1
"Today we are on the verge of another epidemic; not a disease that attacks our immune system, but our brain, our memory, our personality, ourselves. Like HIV / AIDS in its early days, dementia was a globally underfunded area of medicine. "
He indicated that if all people who believed they had dementia were living in one country, it would be approximately the size of Spain, and cited forecasts that by 2030 this hypothetical nation would contain nearly 75 million people. "By then, he has to become a member of the G7," says De Jong.
'Dementia care costs are currently estimated at a staggering $ 2 ton (£ 1.6 ton). No one has to doubt: dementia is one of the greatest medical and social challenges we will face in the years to come. In some countries this is already the leading cause of death. "
The challenge is particularly relevant in the Netherlands, which has an aging population of just over 17 million people, 280,000 of whom have some form of neurological impairment, such as dementia or Alzheimer's disease.
Prof. Philip Sheltens, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Center at the UMC Hospital in Amsterdam, has been lobbying the Dutch government for serious investment in research.
"Comparison with AIDS is often made," he said, "The urgency is as enormous as it was at the time, though it may be better to compare it to cancer. There is no cure yet and we have to go back to the drawing board to understand dementia. The world budget needs to grow. "
The Netherlands will also invite other parties to the G20 Health Ministers' meeting this weekend in Okayama, Japan, to participate in a joint research program. In July next year, Amsterdam will host a summit of 6,000 researchers.
Lenny Shalcross, Executive Director of the World Dementia Council, who was at the Summit in Japan, stated: "Dementia is the biggest health challenge of the 21st century. "
Hillary Evans, CEO of Alzheimer's Research in the United Kingdom, said the AIDS comparison was appropriate.
"One in three people born today will develop this devastating condition throughout their lives, unless we find new ways to prevent and cure the disease," she says.
"We have seen what can be successfully achieved in other areas of health through the movement of people who come together to call for change, tackle stigma and stimulate radical and sustained increases in research funding.
"Thanks to this investment in research, today, HIV is no longer an end state in many Trani and research have changed so many lives. We want to see the same for dementia and 50 million people affected by the condition. "