Dementia epidemic looms with 135 million sufferers seen by 2050

Dementia epidemic looms with 135 million sufferers seen by 2050

7:04pm EST

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Many governments are woefully unprepared for an epidemic of dementia currently affecting 44 million people worldwide and set to more than treble to 135 million people by 2050, health experts and campaigners said on Thursday.Fresh estimates from the advocacy group Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) showed a 17 percent increase in the number of people with the incurable mind-robbing condition compared with 2010, and warned that by 2050 more than 70 percent of dementia sufferers will be living in poorer countries.

“It’s a global epidemic and it is only getting worse,” said ADI’s executive director Marc Wortmann.

“If we look into the future the numbers of elderly people will rise dramatically. It’s vital that the World Health Organization makes dementia a priority, so the world is ready to face this condition.”

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is a fatal brain disease that has no cure and few effective treatments.

Like other forms of the disorder, it affects patients’ memory, thinking and behavior and is an increasingly overwhelming burden on societies and economies. While there are a few drugs that can ease some symptoms in some people, there is no cure.

Even now, the global cost of dementia care is more than $600 billon, or around 1.0 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), and that will only increase, the ADI says.

In a policy report published along with the new data, Martin Prince, a professor at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, said “most governments are woefully unprepared for the dementia epidemic”. His report said only 13 countries have national dementia plans.

“This is a global problem that is increasingly impacting on developing countries with limited resources and little time to develop comprehensive systems of social protection, health and social care,” Prince said in a statement.

Leaders from the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries are due to meet in London next week for a special summit on dementia – a condition that includes Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), fronto-temporal dementia and many other causes of cognitive decline.

In Britain, dementia is the most feared health condition among people aged over 55 and costs the economy 23 billion pounds ($37.6 billion) a year – more than cancer, stroke or heart disease combined.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who will host the summit, has committed to spending 66 million pounds on dementia research by 2015. Campaigners welcome the investment, but also say it is a fraction – one eighth – of what is spent on cancer research in Britain.

Experts on neurological conditions, research campaigners and charities say they are determined the summit should not be just a talking shop, but should see leaders committing to dramatically increased funds for research and drug development in dementia, and to giving it greater political attention.

“Lack of funding means dementia research is falling behind other conditions,” said Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society. “The G8 is our once-in-a-generation chance to conquer this condition and we must see meaningful action after the talking is over.”

As well as more money for fundamental scientific research and for drug development, experts say they want the G8 summit to focus on ways to attract, develop and retain the best scientists, doctors and carers into the field of dementia.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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