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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fight against dementia India-2009

Dementia is a general term to denote a progressive degenerative disease of the brain resulting in loss of Memory, intellectual decline, behavioural and personality changes. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of Dementia. Mostly older people are affected by this condition.

It is estimated that there are more than 28 million people affected by this mind crippling tragedy globally. This number is expected to double by 2025. More than 70% of people with dementia live in developing counties like China and India. Although we don’t have the actual members, it is estimated that there are over 3 million people in India who are victims of dementia.

Compared to any other chronic illness, more than the patients, often, it is the family members who bear the brunt of this devastating illness. It is often termed as a cruel disease, because it strips the person of all the skills and intellectual achievement the person has acquired during his life time and leaves the shadow of the person he used to be. The family members often have to watch the deterioration of their loved ones helplessly. Despite the magnitude, there is gross ignorance, and is often neglected in our country.

Many countries in the world have recognized Dementia as a health priority eg. Australia, South Korea. Similarly countries like UK, France have developed National Dementia Strategies. This has resulted in greater recognition, improved awareness and more fund allocation by their governments.

Alzheimer’s and Related Disorders Society of India (ARDSI) is the first Afro Asian National Alzheimer’s Association to get full membership in Alzheimer’s Disease International the world federation of 74 national Alzheimer’s Associations way back in 1993. ARDSI continues to be in the forefront in raising awareness and providing much needed services to those affected. Taking cues from the countries with better dementia awareness and care, ARDSI has taken the bold initiative to develop a National Dementia Strategy for India. The number of people with dementia in India is expected to double by 2025. There is gross ignorance. Most people with dementia go undetected. There are hardly any service available. Research in this area is scanty.

The aim of the National consultative meetings are to explore, discuss and share views on how to develop a National Dementia Strategy for India. This will be a road map for the country for the next five years in Dementia care. The first meeting was held in Jamia Millia, New Delhi on 30th-31st Jan 2009. The meeting in Mumbai is to get the views of the experts from the Western region. Similar meetings shall be held in other parts of the country, drawing experts from medical, nursing, social work, legal, media and governmental agencies. A final meeting shall be held in New Delhi by the end of 2009 to draw a national plan.

Raising awareness, promote early diagnosis and provide effective management shall be the key areas, the Strategy shall be based up on. Final document shall be used to influence the government of India and state governments to include dementia in all the key Ministries of health, social welfare, science and technology’s, programmes. We hope to work towards making dementia a health priority in the country in the coming years.

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