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Countries lag behind reaching targets in response to dementia

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that most countries are far from reaching the adopted targets of the Global Action Plan 2017-2025 on public health response to dementia.

Dementia describes a different brain disorder that affects memory thinking, behaviour and also emotions with early symptoms being memory loss.

According to the global status report on response to dementia launched Tuesday, WHO said despite encouraging efforts there still exists knowledge gaps on dementia which is one of the greatest health challenges of this generation.

In a statement WHO has now developed a blueprint for dementia research, the first WHO initiative of its kind for non-communicable diseases.

Dr Ren Minghui, WHO’s Assistant Director General UHC/Communicable & Non-Communicable Diseases said that   progress in dementia research can be achieved by strengthening and monitoring the drivers of research highlighted in the blueprint so that they become the norm for good research practice.

“WHO encourages national and international research agencies, together with other funding bodies, to use the blueprint to inform upcoming funding streams and operationalize the drivers of research,” Minghui said.

Civil society can also ensure that advocacy efforts are likewise aligned, supporting the drive for a more equitable, efficient, and collaborative research landscape. Additionally, researchers can support the achievement of milestones and strategic goals of this blueprint by addressing the research gaps identified.

WHO, Minghui said will work with all stakeholders across relevant sectors to ensure that the actions outlined in the blueprint are implemented, milestones are achieved, and strategic goals are realized, with the ultimate aim of improving the quality of life of and support offered to people living with dementia, their care givers, and families.

According to Strengthening Responses to Dementia in Developing Countries (STRIDE) Kenya, the ageing population is expected to double over the next three decades and the prevalence of dementia is estimated to increase from 600 cases per 100,000 in 2020 to 660 per 100,000 cases in 2050 translating to 316 percentage change in the number of people living with dementia.

STRIDE is a four-year project to build capacity in dementia research in seven developing countries Kenya included.

As part of the project, STRIDE Kenya team recently developed an anti-stigma toolkit and ‘trainer of trainers’ manual which aims to change the public perception around dementia in the country.

The blueprint for dementia research summarizes the current state of dementia research across six broad themes, identifies existing knowledge gaps, and outlines 15 strategic goals with actions and time bound milestones to address these gaps.

Going forward, the Blueprint is supposed to guide policymakers, funders, and the research community on future activities in dementia research, and contribute to making dementia research more efficient, equitable, and impactful.

By Wangari Ndirangu

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