WHO launches Global Dementia Observatory

Cathy Greenblat

WHO developed the Global Dementia Observatory to support countries in strengthening dementia-relevant policies and evidence-based service planning. It provides a framework and a set of indicators for data collection by countries, which can inform their policy development and service planning. The Global Dementia Observatory can also facilitate the timely sharing of information and translation of knowledge through a web-based interactive platform.

WHO officially launched the Global Dementia Observatory during a 2-day event in Geneva, Switzerland. Stakeholders from across the dementia landscape attended the event, including delegates from Member States, academic researchers, representatives of civil society organizations, and people with dementia and their carers.

WHO recognizes dementia as a public health priority. In May 2017, the World Health Assembly endorsed the Global action plan on the public health response to dementia 2017–2025. It provides a comprehensive blueprint for action for WHO, policy-makers, and international, regional and national partners in a number of specified areas:

  • increasing awareness of dementia and establishing dementia-friendly initiatives;
  • reducing the risk of dementia;
  • improving diagnosis, treatment and care;
  • scaling up research and innovation; and
  • providing support for carers of people living with dementia.

The Global Dementia Observatory will provide an effective mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the Global action plan. It will function as a repository of best practices and policies, and a means of exchanging knowledge among Member States and other implementation partners.

A number of Member States from the WHO European Region were actively involved in the initial development and data-collection phase of the Global Dementia Observatory, including France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

It is hoped that many others will now participate in the activities of the Global Dementia Observatory in a bid to strengthen national and regional efforts to address the public health and societal challenge of dementia.

Dementia is one of the priority conditions in the WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP), which aims to scale up care for mental, neurological and substance use disorders, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.

WHO also developed iSupport, an electronic health solution that provides information and skills training for carers of people living with dementia.