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WHO launches blueprint to tackle dementia health challenge

by Haruna Gimba

By Asmau Ahmad

The World Health Organisation (WHO), on Tuesday launched the first-ever research blueprint for tackling dementia.

WHO said worldwide, around 55 million people have dementia, with over 60 per cent living in low- and middle-income countries.

The world health body said as the proportion of older people in the population is increasing in nearly every country, this number is expected to rise to 78 million in 2030 and 139 million in 2050.

According to the UN health agency, dementia is one of the greatest health challenges of our generation.

“Although dementia is the seventh leading cause of death globally, dementia research accounts for less than 1.5 per cent of total health research output,” WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan, said in a statement.

“Sadly, we are falling behind implementing the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-25,” she said, adding that addressing dementia comprehensively requires “research and innovation to be an integral part of the response.”

Strategies are needed to better understand, prevent, and treat the underlying diseases that cause dementia and, at the same time, provide care and support to people who suffer from it, as well as those who care for them.

Research needs to be conducted within an enabling environment, where collaborations are fostered, and equitable and sustained investment is realised, the UN health agency maintained.

Those are the objectives behind WHO’s new blueprint for dementia research, the first WHO initiative of its kind for noncommunicable diseases.

It’s designed to provide guidance to policy makers, funders, and the research community on dementia research, making it more efficient, equitable, and impactful.

WHO is encouraging national and international research agencies, together with financing bodies, to use the blueprint to inform upcoming funding and operationalise research.

At the same time, civil society should ensure that advocacy efforts are also aligned, supporting a more equitable, efficient, and collaborative research landscape.

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