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AE presents European Dementia Monitor results in the European Parliament

Tuesday 06 December 2016

On 6 December 2016, Alzheimer Europe held a lunch debate in the European Parliament, hosted by Nessa Childers, MEP (Ireland) and a Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer's Alliance (EAA). Ms Childers greeted the participants and explained that the debate would focus on comparing and benchmarking national responses to the dementia challenge. She then handed over to Iva Holmerová, the new Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe. Prof Holmerová added her own welcome and introduced the first speaker, AE’s Executive Director Jean Georges.

Mr Georges presented the concept and the results of the European Dementia Monitor, an AE survey of national dementia strategies and policies that compares four key areas:

  1. Medical and scientific issues, including treatment, research and clinical trials
  2. Care and social issues, including social support
  3. Policy and legal issues
  4. Dementia strategies, including dementia-friendly communities

The report is mainly based on data obtained from AE’s member associations, highlighting the relative strengths and weaknesses of access to care and treatment among European countries. This provides national associations with a means to lobby for change by comparing their country to others. The Monitor also allows policy makers to identify both gaps and best practices, in order to improve care and support of people with dementia and their carers all over Europe. The priority areas are as follows:

  • Availability and reimbursement of AD medicines
  • Availability and affordability of care services
  • Availability of clinical trials
  • Involvement in EU dementia research
  • Recognition of dementia as a priority
  • Recognition of legal issues
  • Recognition of human rights
  • Carer employment support
  • Dementia-friendly communities / inclusiveness

Mr Georges presented comparison charts for each priority area and explained the point system used to derive the rankings. He also showed overall country rankings and added that AE would publish the overall results in early 2017.

The next speaker was Tim Muir, Health and Social Policy Analyst at OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He presented “Measuring Dementia - an overview of the facts and figures we have now and those we need to develop in the future”. Mr Muir explained that dementia is a growing priority in many OECD countries, hence the organisation’s interest to measure its current burden and determine future needs.

He showed that dementia prevalence will continue to increase, mainly due to an ageing population and added that dementia is globally the second biggest cause of disability for people over the age of 70. Mr Muir also presented figures on the costs of dementia to national health systems and noted that the global overall cost of dementia is estimated at over half a trillion US dollars.

Looking to the future, Mr Muir said that OECD would soon launch a pilot set of indicators, including the use of antipsychotics and the rate of avoidable hospital admissions of people with dementia. The organisation is also evaluating patient-reported measures, which can be especially valuable in the early stages of dementia. Mr Muir concluded that these measures would be a major theme at OECD’s Health Ministerial forum in January 2017.

Prof Holmerová followed with a brief introduction of two new Alzheimer Europe publications. The first is a discussion paper on ethical issues linked to the changing definitions/use of terms related to Alzheimer’s disease and the second is AE’s 2016 Yearbook, entitled “decision making and legal capacity in dementia”. These reports are described in more detail in the article below.

In her concluding remarks, Ms Childers cited the problem of how Member States will be able to fund health programmes. She added that “in public health, dementia competes with other disease areas, so the kind of research we’ve seen today is very important to be able to persuade policy makers to fund dementia efforts.”

The lunch debate was attended by over 60 people, including MEPs Heinz Becker (Austria), Deirdre Clune (Ireland), Sofia Ribeiro (Portugal) and Olga Senhalová (Czech Rep.) as well as representatives for MEPs Karin Kadenbach (Austria), Stefano Maullu and Patrizia Toia (Italy) and Jana Žitňanská (Slovakia). The audience also included representatives from several pharmaceutical companies and 18 Alzheimer Europe member associations.