Wednesday 22 March 2023

Government must emphasis prevention in dementia strategy: experts


A group of 67 prominent healthcare professionals have sent an open letter to the government, urging ministers to do all they can to prevent dementia.

The letter, published in the NRC, states that in all the plans to tackle the ‘explosive’ growth in dementia, little attention is being paid to prevention.

‘There is broad consensus that making a serious attempt to tackle dementia will lead to a 20% reduction in new patients over 12 years,’ the letter said. ‘That would mean in the Netherlands, by a cautious estimate, 5,000 fewer patients a year, generating long-term savings of up to €2bn.’

In the letter, the experts state that dementia care is currently taking up €9bn of annual healthcare spending of €88bn.

‘Exercise, healthy blood sugar levels and blood pressure, better hearing, healthy food with enough vegetables, fruit, fish, omega 3 fats and vitamin B, a healthy weight, not smoking, enough sleep, education, social interaction and cognitive activity’ are all factors which protect against dementia, the letter states.

The Dutch cabinet estimates the number of dementia patients will double to 500,000 by 2040.

At the weekend, health minister Hugo de Jonge told a meeting of world experts in Japan there needs to be a global approach to dementia.

‘Only when it became clear how quickly the epidemic of HIV/Aids was taking hold – it spread like wildfire, taking millions of lives around the globe – did a global awareness emerge,’ he told a World Dementia Council summit in Toyko. ‘A huge sense of urgency arose for international cooperation in HIV/Aids research.’

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