A Brief Look Back At The G8 Dementia Summit Of 2013
In December of 2013, Canada was part of the world’s first G8 Dementia Summit, held in London, England. The goals of the summit were to spark more investment in dementia research, to improve the prevention and treatment of dementia, and to better the quality of life for those with dementia and their families and caregivers.
Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) made clear in a speech at the G8 Summit the impact of dementia and the importance of continuing to work towards a cure. She said, “I can think of no other condition that places such a heavy burden on society, families and communities and, of course, the economy. I can think of no other condition where innovation, especially breakthrough innovation, is so badly needed….” Dr. Chan then pledged the full support of the WHO to countries wishing to create a mental health plan with a focus on dementia.
Attendees also heard three panel discussions on different aspects of this global problem. In the first discussion, the focus was on improving the quality of life for those affected by dementia and their caregivers. They discussed best practices for keeping people in their homes and out of hospitals, as well as non-medical approaches to the treatment of dementia.
Discussion two focused on preventing and delaying Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Speakers in this discussion set a hopeful tone, saying that we were closer to a cure than ever before and relaying some recent advances in research.
Discussion three was about how we as a society are adjusting to our aging population and the increase in dementia that may come with it. Speakers talked about how to improve the health of our elderly by encouraging physical activity, collaborating and sharing information among patients, and establishing best practice guidelines for the care of people with dementia.
The G8 Dementia Summit concluded with the countries involved agreeing to the following:
- To aim for a cure by 2025.
- To increase spending on dementia research and to have more people involved in studies.
- To support a global focus on dementia research by sharing information and data and making those data available to researchers more quickly.
In 2013, Canada took some of its first steps toward accomplishing those goals. In the 2013 Speech from the Throne, Governor General David Johnston outlined some of the actions Canada planned to take. This focused primarily on a renewed investment in dementia research, including contributions to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Neurological Charities of Canada, and the Canada Brain Research Fund.
The G8 Dementia Summit was the first such meeting among countries solely for the purpose of improving the treatment of dementia and the quality of life of those living with it and their caregivers. It is through those kinds of global collaborations that we find great hope for change. As British Prime Minister David Cameron put it in his keynote address:
“In generations past, the world came together to take on the great killers. We stood against malaria, cancer, HIV and AIDS and we are just as resolute today. I want [December 11th] 2013 to go down as the day the global fight-back really started…”
You can read more about Ministry of Health’s involvement in Alzheimer’s Awareness Month here: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/minist/messages/_2014/2014_01_14-eng.php