WHO Sets 2030 as Deadline to Find Cure for Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer's Disease and dementia can lead to loneliness in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia found in elderly people.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has pushed the deadline to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease from 2025 to 2030. 

The earlier deadline had been decided on at the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and makes up 60-70% of the global dementia cases. 

WHO’s A Blueprint for Dementia Research, which was launched on Tuesday, identifies gaps in dementia research and sets time-bound goals to tackle the disease. It found that most countries were behind on the targets set in 2017 on public health response to dementia. 

Dementia is a non-communicable disease that mainly affects older people. It is estimated that over 55 million people are living with dementia across the world, of which around 60% live in low and middle income countries. 

Every year, around 10 million new cases of dementia are reported globally. At this rate, it is expected that by the year 2030, 78 million people will be living with dementia – growing to 139 million people by 2050. 

The blueprint summarises the current state of dementia research across six themes including  drug development, clinical trials,  care and support. It also pinpoints existing knowledge gaps in research and recommends 15 goals with a time-bound action plan. 

According to the blueprint, WHO wants member-states to formulate a disease-modifying therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease by 2030. The WHO also directs member states to develop capacity to conduct clinical intervention trials for dementia, especially in low and middle income countries by 2027. 

WHO Chief Scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan pointed out that, at present, dementia research accounts for less than 1.5% of the total health research output in the world, despite the disease being the seventh leading cause of death globally. 

“Sadly, we are falling behind (in) implementing the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-25. Addressing dementia comprehensively requires research and innovation to be an integral part of the response.”

At the G8 Dementia Summit in 2013, countries had vowed to increase funding for research and to identify a cure or a disease-modifying therapy by the year 2025. In 2017, all 194 WHO member states adopted the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia. This plan reiterated their commitment to fighting dementia. 

However, as per the Global Status Report on the Public Health Response to Dementia published by WHO in 2019, only 26% of the member states of the global health body have a plan to address dementia in their countries. 

In addition, only 21% of the WHO’s member states have an awareness campaign for dementia. The metrics on diagnosis and reporting mechanisms across member states also remains grim. The report, therefore, concluded that the world, as a whole, is far behind in both finding a cure for dementia and in achieving the targets set for 2025. 

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

Image Credits: Photo by Steven HWG on Unsplash.

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