Katalin Levai (Hungary)
MEPs speak out on dementia
Alzheimer Europe speaks with Katalin Levai, Member of Parliament for Hungary, about her recent election to Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance, the Written Declaration in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and the French Presidency (December 2008)
Alzheimer Europe (AE): Ms. Levai, many thanks for having accepted the position of Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance. What is your motivation in supporting this cause?
Katalin Levai (KL): Alzheimer’s disease affects more than 6 million people in Europe causing them and their relatives long and oppressive suffering, and imposes enormous costs on society (more than € 55 billion per annum). These families should be helped! I believe that due to my position as Vice-Chairwoman of the European Alzheimer's Alliance I could provide more support for patients and the medical profession than before.
AE: You recently signed a Written Declaration together with your colleagues Françoise Grossetête, John Bowis, Antonios Trakatellis and Jan Tadeusz Masiel. What do you hope to achieve with this Declaration?
KL: I hope that by this action we will draw the attention of other European decision makers to the fact that European health policy is lacking as well as encourage the decision makers to recognise Alzheimer disease as a European priority.
AE: Apart from the Written Declaration, are there other ways in which a Member of the European Parliament can support measures to improve the quality of life of the 6.1 million people with dementia in the European Union?
KL: Indeed, it is our responsibility to keep the issue alive on the European and national levels. The Alzheimer's associations should receive more regular support and permanent promotion on the pan-European research working in the field of the prevention and treatment of the disease.
AE: The French Presidency wants to make dementia a European priority. Would you support the development of a European Action Plan to improve the collaboration between Member States on this issue?
KL: I have already supported it and the Written Declaration explicitly calls for the establishment of such an action plan.
AE: As a Member of the European Parliament from Hungary, how would you compare the situation of people with dementia in your country to that of patients in other European countries?
KL: 160.000 people suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in Hungary, unfortunately in difficult living and medical conditions. Thanks to the Hungarian Alzheimer Association and its director, Ms Eva Himmer, their lives are getting more comfortable day by day.
There is no country in the world which could cope with such a big disease. The social and health care systems of countries are not prepared to handle this crisis, which crosses over national borders. I see the solution lying in an inter-governmental cooperation and therefore I would like to emphasise the importance of the newly launched Global Alzheimer's Disease Charter.
AE: Thank you for this interview.
Last Updated: Wednesday 14 October 2009