Dementia: a Public Health Priority (WHO / ADI)

[A version of this item appears in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter (RWHT), Volume 2 Issue 10, May 2012].


There are approximately 35.6 million people living with dementia worldwide today. This number is likely to double by 2030, and could triple by 2050. The global costs of dementia are estimated to be US$ 604 billion per year currently and seem set to increase even more quickly than the prevalence.

This report, produced jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), raises awareness of dementia as a public health priority, advocates a “public health approach” to the problem and makes a call for action, at both international and national levels, to tackle the main priorities which include:

  • Strengthening country preparedness for dementia.
  • Health and social systems development.
  • Support for informal care and caregivers.
  • Awareness-raising and advocacy.

The main messages in this report are:

  1. People can live for many years with dementia, and appropriate support can enable many to have a good quality of life.
  2. The dementia burden is potentially overwhelming for many caregivers, who deserve adequate support from the health, social, financial and legal systems.
  3. Countries should adopt dementia as a priority on their public health agendas. Sustained action and coordination is required at multiple levels (international, national, regional and local).
  4. People with dementia and their carers have insights into the condition, so should be involved policy formation and decision-making.
  5. Now is the time to act. The priorities are:
  • Promotion of dementia-friendly communities globally.
  • Making dementia a national public health and social care priority worldwide.
  • Awareness raising, to improve public and professional attitudes to dementia.
  • Investment in health and social systems to improve care and services for people with dementia and their caregivers.
  • Giving a higher priority to dementia in the public health research agenda.

As a systematic review of national dementia strategies this document is a tour de force.

Full Text Link


World Health Organization [and] Alzheimer’s Disease International (2012). Dementia: a public health priority. Geneva: WHO, April 2012. 112p. ISBN: 9789241564458.

Section headings in this report comprise:

Chapter 1: Introduction

  • Dementia: a public health issue.
  • Objectives of the report.

Chapter 2: Epidemiology of dementia

  • Global prevalence of dementia.
  • Dementia subtypes.
  • Global incidence of dementia.
  • Mortality associated with dementia.
  • Economic impact: the global societal cost of dementia.
  • Etiology and potential for prevention.
  • Limitations.
  • Future trends.

Chapter 3: Dementia policy and plans, legislation and ethical issues

  • Dementia policies, plans and strategies.
  • Social and legal protection, human rights and ethics.

Chapter 4: Dementia health and social care systems and workforce

  • Health and social care systems.
  • Care pathways for populations with specific needs.
  • Workforce capacity-building.

Chapter 5: Dementia caregiving and caregivers

  • Who cares?
  • What do family caregivers do?
  • What are the motivations to care?
  • What are the consequences of caregiving?
  • Interventions for caregivers.
  • Strengthening caregiving.

Chapter 6: Public understanding of dementia: from awareness to acceptance

  • Awareness and understanding of dementia.
  • The impact of stigma.
  • Awareness-raising campaigns.
  • Developing a campaign.
  • Raising awareness in the political sphere: the role of advocacy.
  • Six stages of acceptance of dementia: a civil society perspective.

Chapter 7: The way forward

  • The need for action.
  • The value of action.
  • The framework for action.
  • Key messages.
  • References.

Possibly also of interest:

Full Text Link


Rizzi, L. Rosset, I. Roriz-Cruz, M. (2014). Global epidemiology of dementia: Alzheimer’s and vascular types. Biomedical Research International. 2014; 908915.

About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI), For Researchers (mostly), International, Management of Condition, Models of Dementia Care, Patient Care Pathway, Quick Insights, Standards, Statistics, Systematic Reviews, Universal Interest, World Health Organization (WHO) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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