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Background to the Creation of the Dementia Ethics Network

Dementia Ethics Network

Thanks to the support of the German Ministry of Health, Alzheimer Europe was be able to start with the development of a European Dementia Ethics Network in 2009. This article provides background information as to how the Network came into being and first appeared in the Dementia in Europe magazine (issue 4) in 2009.

A Common Reflection on Dementia Ethics

At last year’s French Presidency Conference on Alzheimer’s disease, President Sarkozy highlighted the need for Member States of the European Union to have an exchange on some of the ethical challenges posed by dementia and advocated the creation of a European network for this purpose. This recognition of the importance of the ethical aspects of dementia was echoed in the European Commission’s Alzheimer’s initiative and a common reflection on dementia ethics is highlighted as one of the priority areas for European collaboration.

In parallel to these developments, the German Health Ministry and Alzheimer Europe held a number of meetings to explore the setting up of a European Dementia Ethics Network and in September 2009, Ulla Schmidt, German Minister for Health announced that the implementation and setting up costs of such a network would be supported financially with a grant of EUR 60,000.

The initiative dates back to 2008, when Michael Schmieder, the director of Sonnweid, a care facility in Switzerland, put forward the concept of such a network based on the need for family and professional carers to get support when faced with ethical dilemmas. At a workshop in September 2008, the concept was discussed in more detail with ethics experts from various European countries (see Issue 2 of the Dementia in Europe Magazine for more details) and was welcomed by all participants.

Thanks to the support of the German Ministry for Health, Alzheimer Europe has now set in motion the first steps towards the establishment of greater European collaboration on dementia ethics:


  • Dianne Gove, the information officer of Alzheimer Europe has been appointed as coordinator of the European Dementia Ethics Network,
  • a number of key ethics experts, such as François Blanchard from France, Andreas Kruse from Germany and Sigurd Sparr from Norway have agreed to take part in the Ethics Advisory Board set up to monitor the activities of the network,
  • the first priorities of the network have been decided and the network will focus on the ethical implications of new technologies, as well as some of the ethical challenges (consent, placebo research, genetic testing) posed by dementia research,
  • the new website of Alzheimer Europe will include a specific section dedicated to dementia ethics and information on some of the ethical approaches to dementia has already been included on the website.


Dianne Gove, the coordinator of the network summarised the main objectives as follows: “The network wants to foster European dialogue around the ethical issues in dementia and promote a better understanding of different ethical approaches, create a European reference library of existing ethical positions, draft reports on specific ethical issues such as the use of new technologies and highlight areas where a consensus or differences exist.”



Last Updated: vendredi 23 juillet 2010




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