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No assurance to launch a plan for dementia in India yet: ADI report | India News

BENGALURU: Even as the country fights the Covid pandemic, a report has revealed that India does not have any national dementia plan or strategy in place.
As per the ‘From plan to impact report IV – Progress towards targets of the WHO Global action plan on dementia’ released recently, India’s rating has dropped from 3A-3B in 2019 to 2C in 2021. It means the policy has slipped from committed funding to certain action areas to some funding and no assurance or commitment given for launching a plan.
The report was released recently by Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) – an international federation of Alzheimer associations around the world. As per the report, non-governmental dementia strategies exist in India and New Zealand. Here, the strategies are generated by non-governmental groups to persuade governments to create a national or sub-national plan.
In an official release, ADI said at the World Health Assembly in 2017, 194 world governments unanimously approved a global action plan on dementia, committing to the development of national plans, as the best tool for a robust strategy to tackle one of the biggest health and social care crises of the century. Four years on and with four years to 2025, just under 17 percent of WHO nations have accomplished the goal of creating a national plan in response to managing the alarming and increasing prevalence of dementia across the globe.
As per the report, 28 new plans are needed annually to reach the WHO target of 146 plans (75% of Member States) by 2025. This is based on data collected from Alzheimer and dementia associations in April 2021 and assumes no additional plans are launched this calendar year
The report by ADI revealed that only 32 out of 194 of World Health Organisation (WHO) countries, who pledged to develop national dementia plans at the World Health Assembly in 2017 have accomplished the goal; 21 countries are currently developing a national dementia plan or have integrated dementia within a wider health plan which is also in development; 141 WHO Member States do not yet have a plan in existence.
Covid-19 and Dementia
Paola Barbarino, ADI CEO, says that while understandably the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted health priorities, the pandemic also created greater urgency for managing dementia at a national level.
In the foreword to the report, Barbarino says that Covid-19 is making the dementia crisis even bigger globally. Remarking that 25% of deaths from Covid-19 were people living with dementia, she says they have been therefore disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
“Many people living with dementia have experienced cognitive deterioration from lack of social engagement due to isolation, shielding, distancing and lack of social services. Caregivers and people living with dementia have seen the onset of depression and anxiety because of social distancing and lack of respite and care support,” she explains in the report.
“Simply put, Covid-19 could be causing a future wave of dementia in an already vulnerable, proportion of the global population,” says Barbarino.
“Dementia was already a serious health crisis. It is even more so now as we grapple with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on our already vulnerable community of people living with dementia.”
The report also reveals that there is a serious impact of long Covid-19 on the brain and there is a genuine concern of facing more onset of dementia as a consequence of Covid-19
Fifty million people live with dementia in the world and at least 200 million people are likely to be impacted as family and friends. “This crisis looks set to increase those numbers even more,” she adds.
“Now more than ever we need to be talking about dementia and ensuring that we are future-proofing for providing care, access to medical support, and progressing dementia research,” she says adding: “With an ageing global population and prevalence of dementia set to triple in the next 30 years, we must act now to ensure we are not caught off-guard as many have been in this pandemic. National dementia plans are the best tool available to do this and governments must abide by their commitment to the WHO global action plan.”
Some countries that have created national dementia plans include countries like England, Japan, South Korea, Scotland and the Netherlands – often managing to cover the entire set of recommendations from the WHO in creating an exemplar, robust national dementia plan.
“We applaud the efforts of those nations that have managed to prioritise dementia planning over the past four years, and greatly urge those who have yet to do so, not to lose sight of dementia in health and care planning going forward,” says Barbarino adding: “We know Covid-19 has shifted everyone’s priorities right now, but while the pandemic is here temporarily, dementia is unfortunately here to stay, and health systems must prepare now.”
The ADI report also found that only four national plans were launched in the last year and ways must be found to increase the momentum, galvanise the dementia community, collaborate, innovate, and accelerate action towards achieving the goals of the Global action plan on dementia.
Way ahead
The organisation suggests countries focus on qualitative research. It calls on all governments to invest a minimum of 1% of the societal cost of dementia in research. “It is vital that governments include research in their national dementia plans, with an identified budget,” ADI says.
In the report, ADI maintains that national dementia action plans are the best and most appropriate tool to bring about change. Concerning the effect of Covid-19, it suggests: ” Urgent action is needed to investigate the potential increased risk of dementia caused by Covid-19 and to understand and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on dementia diagnosis. Each government must take into account dementia and non-communicable disease risk factors in their Covid-19 response plans.”

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