At the G8 dementia summit in London, leading nations met to tackle what experts warn is a 'dementia time-bomb' and to commit to developing a cure or treatment for dementia by 2025. With the global number of dementia sufferers expected to treble to 135 million by 2050 as the world’s population ages, the summit recognised dementia as one of the world’s most pressing medical and social problems that is estimated to become the biggest burden on health-care systems. The G8 summit has been hailed as an attempt to set a global agenda for tackling dementia in light of the World Health Organisation’s latest projections for soaring rates of dementia sufferers.
This comes against the backdrop of the UK Government’s latest pledge to double its annual dementia research funding to £132 million by that year. In the UK, almost a million people over 65 suffer with dementia and one in three will die with it.
Reported in The Telegraph, the G8 summit said it would "develop a co-ordinated international research action plan" to target the gaps in dementia research and ways to address them. The summit was hosted by health minister, Jeremy Hunt, who has urged the G8 nations to redouble efforts to find drugs that can halt or reverse brain decay; to improve diagnosis rates; and to combat the stigma around dementia. He has warned that "we will bankrupt our healthcare systems" if we do not face up to the challenge of dementia.
Commenting on the G8 summit, Lucie Prothero, associate in the clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches, said: "It is heartening to see dementia being placed high on the political health agenda, with promises to target funding to extend research. One in three of us will get dementia and, as such, the condition will touch most of us directly or indirectly throughout our lives causing so much anguish and upset for sufferers and loved ones.
"Alongside the importance of funding for research, one of the most pressing needs must be to ensure good quality care for people living with dementia, as well as support for the families providing their care. Over recent years we have seen an increase in enquiries from families of elderly dementia patients who are unhappy about the way their loved ones have been cared for. We often see problems in the hospital setting arising from poor management of dementia patients who may become agitated, frightened and confused within that environment. If these patients are not properly managed, it can result in poor outcomes such as serious falls or failings in basic care such as the incidence of pressure sores. Taking care of today’s dementia sufferers needs to remain an NHS priority."