Cameron to host G8 dementia summit
Monday 19th August 2013, 2:50PM BST.
The Prime Minister is to use Britain’s presidency of the G8 to encourage an international drive to tackle dementia.
David Cameron has announced that the UK will host a dementia summit for leading industrialised nations so that global health officials can ” coordinate efforts and shape an effective international solution” to the condition.
Mr Cameron and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called on health ministers from G8 countries to attend the meet in London in December.
They hope to discuss looking for effective therapies and new research as well as efforts to slow the impact of dementia.
Mr Hunt described the condition as a “health and care time bomb”, adding: ” Dementia is far from a uniquely British problem – it is a world-wide challenge.
“Given the scale of the challenge dementia poses for every country, we cannot afford to ignore the potential of an effective international approach to dealing with this pressing issue.
“This is why we are putting the fight against dementia on the world map, by using the UK’s presidency of the G8 to host the first summit dedicated to seeking a new level of international collaboration.
“We have a real opportunity to work together to shape an international effort that can reach shared goals faster than individual nations acting alone.
“The UK has already begun a national programme of action through the PM’s Challenge on Dementia launched in 2011. Now we hope the G8 nations can use this unique chance to come together to look at what we can do to help our own citizens and to join together so the rest of the world can best tackle this truly global challenge.
“We have to come together to tackle this health and care time bomb. Only by focusing on what we can do by working together – to share expertise, resources and ideas – can we begin to make real improvements and really make a difference.”
Mr Cameron, who has previously said that tackling the condition is a “personal priority” of his, announced a UK plan on research, care and awareness last year. He has also said that funding on dementia research will increase to around £66 million by 2015.
Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. Current estimates suggest 35.6 million people around the world are living with dementia, including around 800,000 in the UK.
But because of an ageing population, the World Health Organisation has estimated that that number could reach 115.4 million in 2050. In the UK alone, there are likely to be nearly a million people with the condition by the end of 2020, experts have predicted.
Hilary Evans, director of external affairs at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: ” Worryingly, there have been no new treatments for dementia since 2003 and those in existence only offer modest efficacy.
“We desperately need new treatments and interventions that can delay the onset, slow the progression and manage the symptoms of dementia.
“Only through increased research can we make progress and offer hope to people with dementia.”
George McNamara, h ead of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, added: ” Dementia is a global challenge. It is staggering that worldwide, there are more clinical trials into hayfever than there are into some of the most common forms of dementia. Stepping up the global drive for a cure and better treatments must be a key priority.
“This summit is a huge opportunity to break down barriers and lead a global effort to defeat dementia but needs to be the start of clear action and commitments rather than just a one off. By 2021, a million people in the UK alone will have dementia, which costs the British economy £23 billion a year. We simply cannot afford to delay.”