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Dementia

21 September 2010

Alzheimer's costs 1% of global GDP

A landmark report on the Global Economic Impact of Dementia finds that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are exacting a massive toll on the global economy.

A landmark report on the Global Economic Impact of Dementia finds that Alzheimer's disease and other dementias are exacting a massive toll on the global economy, with the problem set to accelerate in coming years.

The World Alzheimer Report 2010 – issued on World Alzheimer's Day by Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) – provides the most current and comprehensive global picture of the economic and social costs of the illness.

The Report was jointly authored by Professor Anders Wimo of the Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; and Professor Martin Prince, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK.
 

  • The worldwide costs of dementia will exceed 1% of global GDP in 2010, at US$604 billion.
  • If dementia care were a country, it would be the world's 18th largest economy. If it were a company, it would be the world's largest by annual revenue exceeding Wal-Mart (US$414 billion) and Exxon Mobil (US$311 billion).
  • The number of people with dementia will double by 2030, and more than triple by 2050.
  • The costs of caring for people with dementia are likely to rise even faster than the prevalence – especially in the developing world, as more formal social care systems emerge, and rising incomes lead to higher opportunity costs.
  • Reports from individual countries such as the UK suggest that dementia is one of the costliest illnesses – and yet research and investment is at a far lower level than for other major illnesses.

'The scale of this crisis cries out for global action,' said Marc Wortmann, Executive director of ADI. 'History shows that major diseases can be made manageable – and even preventable – with sufficient global awareness and the political will to make substantial investments in research and care options.'
 

  • Governments worldwide should act urgently to make Alzheimer's disease a top priority and develop national plans to deal with the social and health consequences of dementia. Several countries have moved forward to develop national plans, including France, Australia and England. It is critical for other governments to follow suit.
  • Governments and other major research funders must increase research funding to a level more proportionate to the economic burden of the condition. Recently published data from the UK suggests that a 15-fold increase is required to reach parity with research into heart disease, and a 30-fold increase to achieve parity with cancer research.
  • Governments worldwide must develop policies and plans for long-term care that anticipate and address social and demographic trends and have an explicit focus on supporting family caregivers and ensuring social protection of vulnerable people with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
  • The scale of what is facing us elevates this to a global challenge, which must be addressed as a top WHO priority and on the G-20/G-8 agenda.

 

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