GENEVA: The number of people with dementia worldwide is estimated to rise to 78 million by 2030 and to 139 million by 2050, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) released on Thursday.
Currently, more than 55 million people (8.1 per cent of women and 5.4 per cent of men over 65 years) are living with dementia.
Dementia is caused by a variety of diseases and injuries that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease or a stroke. It affects memory and other cognitive functions, as well as the ability to perform everyday tasks.
The WHO report stated that the world is failing to curb the condition as only a quarter of countries have a national policy, strategy or plan for supporting people with dementia and their families.
Further, the global cost of dementia is projected to increase to $1.7 trillion by 2030, or $2.8 trillion if corrected for increases in care costs, the WHO said.
“Dementia robs millions of people of their memories, independence and dignity, but it also robs the rest of us of the people we know and love,” WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a statement.
“The world is failing people with dementia, and that hurts all of us. Four years ago, governments agreed on a clear set of targets to improve dementia care. But targets alone are not enough. We need concerted action to ensure that all people with dementia are able to live with the support and dignity they deserve,” he added.
The report also highlighted the urgent need to strengthen support at national level, both in terms of care for people with dementia, and in support for the people who provide that care, in both formal and informal settings.
Care required for people with dementia includes primary health care, specialist care, community-based services, rehabilitation, long-term care, and palliative care.
While most countries (89 per cent) reporting to WHO’s Global Dementia Observatory say they provide some community-based services for dementia, provision is higher in high-income countries than in low- and middle-income countries.
Medication for dementia, hygiene products, assistive technologies, and household adjustments are also more accessible in high-income countries, with a greater level of reimbursement, than in lower-income countries, the report said.