Alzheimer’s Association president and CEO Harry Johns presented and participated in the first ever G8 Dementia Summit hosted by the UK. World leaders acknowledged that the Alzheimer’s and dementia crisis cannot be ignored. All of the G8 countries committed to the goal of identifying disease-modifying therapies or a cure for dementia by 2025.
The goal laid out is similar to the US National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s. The Summit participants also agreed to “increase collectively and significantly the amount of funding for dementia research to reach that goal.”
“The G8 Dementia Summit was an unprecedented opportunity to advance progress internationally, to make Alzheimer’s and dementia research a global priority and to promote increased global collaboration. Now we must capitalise on the new connections and increased attention fostered at this landmark event to rid the world of the devastating scourge of Alzheimer’s and other dementias,” says Johns.
According to a press release, Johns raised the theme of data sharing at the meeting, including the Global Alzheimer’s Association Interactive Network (GAAIN), an open access big-data resource that allows researchers worldwide to accelerate their efforts by sharing information. He also mentioned the International Alzheimer’s Disease Research Portfolio (IADRP), a database of global research developed through a partnership between the National Institutes of Health and the Alzheimer’s Association. This theme was echoed throughout the day as participants broadly agreed that, in addition to the need for a significant increase in research funding by the G8 governments, information sharing and collaboration are critical to success.
The G8 Dementia Summit was the start of a process aimed at putting dementia at the top of the global health agenda and the top of the agendas of health leaders from around the world. Additional international meetings to examine the progress of research are expected to be held in the coming years, says Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. The next gathering will be held on 10 February 2015 in the USA. “We appreciate the continued commitment of Collins to address the Alzheimer’s epidemic,” Johns comments. “The Alzheimer’s Association looks forward to participating in this meeting hosted by the USA and additional G8 meetings to accelerate progress and collaborative action. The Alzheimer’s Association will also lead a group of Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) member organisations that will work to accelerate research efforts.”
According to a policy brief released last week by ADI, 44 million people worldwide have dementia in 2013. With the aging of the global population, dementia prevalence will continue to rise to an estimated 135 million by 2050. The combination of longer lives and aging baby boomers will magnify the Alzheimer’s and dementia epidemic in coming decades.
“We must remain focused on appropriate additional investment to achieve what the USA Alzheimer’s Plan—and everyone affected by this disease—seeks: effective treatment and prevention. The cost of waiting is far too high,” says Johns. “While its impact—human and economic—is staggering, Alzheimer’s is also our biggest health opportunity to positively affect millions of lives and total health costs.”