G8 health ministers commit to curing dementia by 2025

OMNI administrator shares thoughts on international plan

Thursday, December 12, 2013 — Deron Hamel

The health ministers of the world’s eight largest economies committed on Wednesday to finding a cure for dementia, a condition affecting an estimated 44 million people worldwide, including 500,000 Canadians, by 2025.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

Canadian Minister of Health Rona Ambrose attended the Summit in London. Photo Courtesy of Rona Ambrose Web.

It’s estimated that 1.4 million Canadians will have some form of dementia by 2031.

Meeting at a G8 conference in London, U.K. to address the issue of dementia and what can be done to find a cure, health ministers from Canada, Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Japan agreed to create a “dementia envoy” dedicated to promoting research into finding a cure.

The first step to finding a cure for dementia will be to appoint the envoy, who will be tasked with assembling international expertise and obtaining research funding from public and private sectors.

The conference drew attention to the fact that $12 billion worldwide has been spent on research to cure dementia, yet there has been little success in the process.

With the populations of G8 nations aging at a fast pace there’s more need now than ever to find a cure, the ministers concluded.

Streamway Villa administrator Kylie Szczebonski sees the impact dementia has on residents and staff members every day. With most long-term care residents affected by some form of cognitive impairment, it’s a condition that needs addressing, she says, adding the G8 health ministers’ commitment is a step in the right direction.

“I think (this is) very positive because they’re focusing on geriatrics and they’re focusing on dementia and the elder population — people are living longer and people are taking better care of their (physical) health, so dementia is only going to become a bigger issue in the future,” she tells the OMNIway.

“The fact that (the G8 health ministers) have set a goal, they’re talking about it and it’s becoming news is important because that’s something that you never would hear before. This is a significant step.”

Canada is the only G8 country without a national dementia strategy. Canada’s Health Minister Rona Ambrose noted in an interview with reporters at the conference that to develop a national strategy in Canada, the federal government and provinces will need to collaborate.

Responding to this, Szczebonski says Ontario is advanced in dementia research and that there’s room for the provinces to meet and discuss what they are each doing and then federally implement successes seen in each of the 10 regions.

“This (would be) reflective of what’s working (across Canada),” Szczebonski says.

Szczebonski points to the province’s Behavioural Supports Ontario (BSO) program as an example of what’s already working well in dementia care. While not focused on finding a dementia cure, BSO does foster best practices in preventing behavioural responses in people affected by dementia through non-pharmaceutical interventions.

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