We, the G8 Health Ministers, met at the G8 Dementia Summit in London on 11 December 2013 to discuss how to shape an effective international response to dementia.
We acknowledge the ongoing work occurring in our countries and globally to identify dementia as a major disease burden and to address issues related to aging and mental health, including the World Health Organisation’s 2012 report, Dementia – A Public Health Priority. Building upon the significant research collaborations that exist between our countries and our multilateral partners will strengthen our efforts and allow us to better meet the challenges that dementia presents society.
We recognize that dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is a condition that impairs the cognitive brain functions of memory, language, perception and thought and which interferes significantly with the ability to maintain the activities of daily living. We also acknowledge that dementia affects more than 35 million people worldwide, a number that is expected to almost double every 20 years.
We note the socio-economic impact of dementia globally. Seventy per cent of the estimated annual world-wide cost of US$604 billion is spent on informal, social and direct medical care. Yet nearly 60 percent of people with dementia live in low and middle income countries so the economic challenge will intensify as life expectancy increases across the globe. These costs are expected to increase significantly if therapies to prevent dementia and improve care and treatment are not developed and implemented. We recognise the need to strengthen efforts to stimulate and harness innovation and to catalyse investment at the global level.
Therefore, and in accordance with national, sub-national and local responsibilities, we commit ourselves to:
1. Call for greater innovation to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers while reducing emotional and financial burden. We therefore welcome the UK’s decision to appoint a global Dementia Innovation Envoy to draw together international expertise to stimulate innovation and to co-ordinate international efforts to attract new sources of finance, including exploring the possibility of developing a private and philanthropic fund to support global dementia innovation;
2. The ambition to identify a cure or a disease-modifying therapy for dementia by 2025 and to increase collectively and significantly the amount of funding for dementia research to reach that goal. We will report biennially on expenditure on publicly funded national
dementia research and related research infrastructure; and we will increase the number
of people in dementia related research studies;
3. Work together, share information about the research we fund, and identify strategic priority areas, including sharing initiatives for big data, for collaboration and cooperation;
4. Develop a co-ordinated international research action plan which accounts for the current state of the science, identifies gaps and opportunities, and lays out a plan for working together to address them;
5. Encourage open access, where possible to all publicly funded dementia research and to make the research data and results available for further research as quickly as possible, while protecting the privacy of individuals and respecting the political and legal frameworks of the countries in which the research is conducted;
6. Take stock of our current national incentive structure for research, working in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and consider what changes could be made to promote and accelerate discovery and
research and its transformation into innovative and efficient care and services;
7. Hold a series of high-level fora throughout 2014, in partnership with the OECD, WHO, the European Commission, the EU Joint Programme on Neurodegenerative Disease (JPND), and civil society, to develop cross sector partnerships and innovation, focused on:
• Social impact investment – UK-led
• New care and prevention models – Japan-led
• Academia-industry partnerships – Canada and France co-led
8. Call upon the WHO and OECD to identify dementia as an increasing threat to global health and support countries to strengthen health and social care systems to improve care and services for people with dementia;
9. Call upon the UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons to integrate the perspective of older people affected by dementia into their work;
10. Call upon all sectors to treat people affected by dementia with dignity and respect, and to enhance their contribution to dementia prevention, care and treatment where they can; and
11. Call upon civil society to continue and to enhance global efforts to reduce stigma, exclusion and fear.
12. We will meet again in the United States in February 2015 with other global experts, including WHO and OECD, to review the progress that has been made on our research agenda.
Gary Chandler is a prion expert. He is the CEO of Crossbow Communications, author of several books and producer of documentaries about health and environmental issues around the world. Chandler is connecting the dots to the global surge in neurodegenerative disease, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, chronic wasting disease and other forms of prion disease. The scientific name for prion disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. The operative word is “transmissible.” Even the global surge in autism appears to be related.