G8 countries pledge to find cure or treatment for dementia by 2025
Published Wednesday, December 11, 2013 10:09PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 12, 2013 8:12AM EST
As fears grow that dementia is becoming a global crisis, health ministers from G8 countries are pledging to find a treatment or cure for the brain disease by 2025.
At the inaugural G8 dementia summit, held in London on Wednesday, world leaders discussed ways to tackle the mind-robbing condition that is expected to affect 1.4 million Canadians by 2040.
“We stood against malaria, against cancer, against HIV and AIDS, and we should be just as resolute today, British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a speech.
Dementia affects more than 35 million people worldwide, a number that is expected to nearly double every two decades.
“One in three of us will get dementia, and if we don’t do better, those later years could be years of agony, heartbreak and despair, ” British Secretary of Health Jeremy Hunt said at the summit.
Dementia is not considered a normal part of the aging process, but a condition that impairs cognitive brain functions including memory and language.
Those afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease disease or dementia often find it difficult to maintain what are considered normal daily activities.
Finding a treatment or cure in the next 12 years, is a top priority, summit leaders said, as right now, there is nothing to stop the disease.
“In terms of a cure or even a treatment that is going to modify the disease, we are empty-handed,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, of the World Health Organization.
Medical researchers say the fight begins with understanding what is happening in the brain.
“We don’t know enough about the nuts and bolts, but I think if we give it the same sort of resources as cancer and heart disease have had, then in our lifetime we’ll see results, ” said neuroscientist Dr. Atticus Hainsworth.
Yet, Canada was the only country at the summit without a national dementia strategy, a topic that Health Minister Rona Ambrose says may be discussed with the provinces at a meeting next year.
“There is a lot of work being done and if that results or is pieced together as a national plan, we would welcome that,” Ambrose said in an interview.
Many leaders recognized that if nothing is done, dementia could bankrupt the health care system in an effort to care for millions of people unable to care for themselves.
Dianne Wallace, director of quality and adult day services at the Toronto-based SPRINT Senior Care, says her organization is already facing increased demand.
“We have more and more people calling at our doors for services and we have people on wait lists,” she told CTV News.
With a report from CTV Medical Specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip