During the whole month of September, we will be posting a series of articles and publications that tackle the issues of mental health and disorders that cause a high burden of disease such as depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, dementia, substance use disorders, intellectual disabilities, and developmental and behavioural disorders.
We will start our series by exploring the issue of dementia. As described in the WHO fact sheet, dementia - which is used as an umbrella term to describe a myriad of diseases affecting memory, cognitive abilities and behaviour that interfere significantly with a person’s ability to maintain their activities of daily living - affects approximately 50 million people, and is the 7th leading cause of death globally. Worryingly, 63% of the estimated people living with dementia are based in low- and middle -income countries, where limited attention, research and resources are allocated to reducing the risk of dementia, diagnosis, treatment and care, research and innovation, and support for those affected by dementia and their carers.
The World Health Organization has recognised dementia as a public health priority, and endorsed the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017-2025. Additionally, WHO has also released the Towards a dementia plan: a WHO guide that provides valuable guidelines to governments to "build comprehensive, and multisectoral public policy responses to improve quality of life, enhance equitable access to services and reduce stigma and social isolation for people with dementia and their carers".
You can find additional and comprehensive information about dementia and mental health on the WHO Mental Health site. You can also get more information and data on dementia by visiting the Global Dementia Observatory (GDO), a web-based platform that tracks progress on the provision of services for people with dementia and for those who care for them, both within countries and globally. The GDO intends to monitor the presence of national policy and plans, risk reduction measures and infrastructure for providing care and treatment. You can also view and download information on surveillance systems and disease burden data.