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AE lunch debate focuses on the human rights of people with dementia

Tuesday 28 June 2016

On 28 June 2016, AE held a lunch debate entitled “Using the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) to support the rights of people living with dementia” in Brussels. The debate was co-hosted by MEPs Marisa Matias (Portugal) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland).

The first speaker was Helen Rochford Brennan, Chair of the Irish Dementia Working Group and also a Vice-Chairperson of the European Working Group of People with Dementia. She presented “Promoting a rights-based approach through the Irish Charter of Human rights for people with dementia”, which detailed her personal experience with dementia and her current activities to help people with dementia in Ireland and throughout Europe.

The next speaker was Jill Stavert, Professor of Law and Director of the Centre for Mental Health and Incapacity Law at Edinburgh Napier University. Her presentation “Human rights and disability rights for people with dementia” focused on how elements of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) might be used to support the rights of people living with dementia. Prof. Stavert concluded that these elements would help to keep the rights, will and preferences of the individual at the centre of all decisions.

The final speaker was Jonathan Stabenow from the Cabinet of Marianne Thyssen, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility at the European Commission. He presented “The European Accessibility Act (EAA): putting the UNCRPD into practice at EU level”. This is a proposal for legislation to prevent and remove barriers for persons with disabilities, so they can access products and services. The act will also make it easier for industry and service providers to distribute products and services such as computers, cash machines, banking and travel services and e-commerce.

Alzheimer Europe was pleased to welcome 60 delegates to the lunch debate, including MEPs Therese Comodini Cachia (Malta), Nessa Childers (Ireland), Sofia Ribeiro (Portugal), Marek Plura (Poland) and representation from MEPs Olga Sehnalová (Czech Rep.) and Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (Germany). We were also glad to see Dr Jacqueline Hoogendam and Mr Bart Ooijen - both Senior Advisors at the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports - as well as representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and colleagues from 18 AE member associations. The next AE lunch debate will take place on 6 December 2016.

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