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Alzheimer Europe hosts meeting of Governmental Expert on Dementia

Thursday 04 June 2020

Alzheimer Europe hosted an online meeting of the European Group of Governmental Experts on Dementia comprised of policy leads in charge of dementia policies from national health ministries. The meeting was attended by 44 people, including representatives of Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (Department of Health and Social Care and Scottish Government). Representatives from the European Commission (DG RTD and DG SANTE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) also attended. The meeting was split into two main sections, with the first one focusing on relevant European and national developments with regard to dementia strategies and policies and the second one dedicated to an exchange on initiatives and good practices to support people with dementia and their carers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the first section:

  • Germany and the Netherlands presented on their respective new national dementia strategies
  • France outlined the outcome of the evaluation of its neurodegenerative strategy
  • The European Commission provided an update on the new EU4Health programme and the Commission activities on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health.
  • Alzheimer Europe provided an overview of the estimated prevalence of dementia in Europe based on its 2019 Dementia in Europe Yearbook.

In the second section dedicated to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization introduced the discussions by presenting the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 and the policy considerations developed by the WHO European region on strengthening and adjusting public health measures throughout the COVID-19 transition phases. This was followed by short presentations on lockdown exit strategies by health ministry officials from Austria, Finland, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Overall, participants reported that their countries were beginning to ease lockdown measures, with a number of themes emerging, including:

  • The gradual re-opening of services with adjusted measures (e.g. fewer people, social distancing etc.)
  • The move of many services to online and digital formats to provide continuity of support for people with dementia and carers, e.g. digital consultations
  • The challenges around lifting measures for care homes, including lifting restricted visiting rights for families and carers with examples provided of outdoor visits, time-limited visits and dedicated visiting rooms
  • The emergence of regional measures in countries with regional differences in infection rates.

The Group is expected to meet again in December 2020 in Brussels.

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