Marc Wortmann is Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International, a federation of Alzheimer’s organisations providing a global voice for the Alzheimer’s community and affiliated with the BioMed Central journal Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy. Three months after the G8 summit on dementia concluded, which brought together health ministers and researchers as well as pharmaceutical companies and charities, Wortmann reflects on the outcomes and tell us his thoughts.
The first G8 dementia summit, held in December 2013 in London, UK, has created momentum to enforce changes in public and private health systems around the world and in general awareness about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. I can clearly feel that happening when talking to policy makers in the three months following the summit and I hope that in the future when looking back we will conclude this was a watershed moment.
What are the main outcomes of the G8 dementia summit? In my perspective there are three things. The first is a stronger commitment from governments and international bodies like the World Health Organization and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Four follow up meetings are scheduled, in the UK, Japan, Canada and USA and it looks like Italy, France and Germany are likely going to set up something as well.
Secondly, the aims for an international research action plan, including a serious search for significant additional research funding. The appointment of a Special Envoy is proof for this, but also work that is carried out behind the scenes on getting an overview of current initiatives and policies so that it will be possible to identify the gaps and needs for additional action.
The third outcome is a clear involvement of and appeals towards the global civil society to take up its role, especially in creating awareness and changing the face of dementia, but also in working on improved health and care systems and enhancing their contribution to the global research agenda.
Civil Society organisations like Alzheimer’s Disease International, Alzheimer Europe, national Alzheimer associations and other age and disease related organisations have a responsibility now to take this process further and trigger governments and international bodies to use this momentum and make big steps forward towards better treatment, better care and more acceptance of dementia from society. Our ultimate goal is a world without dementia, but for millions of people worldwide and for their families a more short term and achievable goal is better management of dementia as a serious chronic condition, so that people can live well with dementia.
For more opinions on the implications of the G8 dementia summit, read what our panel of leading Alzheimer’s researchers had to say in this Q&A.