Galvanizing action on public health response to dementia in WHO European and Eastern Mediterranean regions

WHO/Malin Bring

For the first time, WHO/Europe has convened a workshop dedicated to promoting and supporting dementia policy and planning at the national level. The event, aimed at galvanizing action on the public health response to dementia, was held on 9–10 September 2019 in Malta and involved national experts from 11 countries across the WHO European and Eastern Mediterranean regions (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czechia, Jordan, Malta, North Macedonia, Morocco, Qatar, Slovenia, Tunisia and Turkey). The meeting was hosted by WHO and the government of Malta.

The workshop provided a platform for country delegates, and representatives of WHO and international nongovernmental organizations active in the field of dementia (Alzheimer Europe, Alzheimer’s Disease International), to share their experiences, learn about successful initiatives taken across the 2 regions and plan new national efforts for scaled-up action.

Such exchanges are vital to build understanding, provide inspiration and accelerate efforts towards making dementia a public health priority, which is one of the core objectives and action areas of WHO’s Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017–2025. Only 16 out of 53 Member States in the European Region currently have a dementia plan or policy.

World Alzheimer’s Day 2019 – breaking stereotypes and myths

Among older people in the European Region, dementia is the leading cause of dependency and disability, affecting around 10 million people. A lack of awareness and knowledge about dementia is prevalent in many countries, and this results in stigmatization and barriers to early diagnosis and treatment. As part of a coherent plan, therefore, countries need to scale up public awareness and advocacy to reduce discrimination and improve the quality of life for people living with or affected by dementia. This year’s World Alzheimer’s Day, which takes place on 21 September, is specifically focused on breaking the stereotypes and myths that surround a dementia diagnosis.