Angelika Werthmann (Austria)
MEPs speak out on dementia
The "Health for Growth" programme is an extremely useful tool for the European Union which does not only serve to improve the well-being of the European citizens but also emphasises the links between economic growth and a healthy population to a greater extent than the previous programmes. Consequently, it provides a clear EU-added value and should therefore be made known to our citizens and used as such.
It is commonly recognised that a healthy population reduces public costs of the EU and Member States.
We have to keep in mind that Alzheimer's disease is the most frequent form of dementia. In the European Union 7.3 million people are diagnosed with dementia and about 50 to 70 percent of these have Alzheimer’s disease.
At the same time, the European population is an ageing one and this poses serious public health, social and thus economic challenges.
Alzheimer's disease is a chronic, unpreventable, age-related and terminal disease and the number of people with dementia will increase. Thus, we will all have to deal with this challenge.
When one takes into account the informal carers of people with dementia (usuallly family members), it is commonly accepted that the number of those directly affected by the disease is estimated to be 20 million. This has an immense impact on the physical and mental health of this group of people, on their social life, as well as on their working-life and their pension rights. It also results in a huge rise on the public costs of the EU.
An early diagnosis of any form of dementia would definitely be more cost-effective and, even more importantly for the individuals concerned, it would contribute to a healthier and better quality of life for all the people concerned.
The "Health for Growth" programme has some clear general objectives, including the sustainability of the health systems as well as the improvement of health in the EU citizens.
The financial support provided by the programme is essential to further develop research both at national and European level, whilst allowing for the fact that the situation regarding innovation differs in the individual Member States.
Due to these aforementioned important facts, Alzheimer's disease, in my view, would definitely qualify for inclusion on the ‘Health for Growth’ Programme.
Last Updated: mardi 03 juillet 2012