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WHO Europe convenes workshop on public health response to dementia at national level

Monday 09 September 2019

For the first time, WHO/Europe has convened a workshop dedicated to promoting and supporting dementia policy and planning at the national level. The event, aimed at galvanising action on the public health response to dementia, was held on 9 and 10 September 2019, in Malta, and was hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Government of Malta.

National experts from 11 countries across the WHO European and Eastern Mediterranean regions (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Jordan, Malta, Morocco, North Macedonia, Qatar, Slovenia, Tunisia and Turkey) were in attendance. Alongside these official government representatives, Charles Scerri, the Chairperson of the Malta Dementia Society, Ninoslav Mimica, President of Alzheimer Croatia, and Štefanija Lukic Zlobek, President of Spominčica - Alzheimer Slovenija, also represented their countries at the meeting.

The workshop provided a platform for country delegates, and representatives of the WHO and international nongovernmental organisations active in the field of dementia (Alzheimer Europe, Alzheimer’s Disease International), to share their experiences, learn about successful initiatives taken across the two regions, and plan new national efforts for scaled-up action.

Helen Rochford-Brennan (Ireland), Chairperson of the European Working of People with Dementia (EWGPWD) opened the meeting, talking about the impact a diagnosis of dementia has on the person diagnosed. She emphasised, also, the need for a human-rights-based approach to the public health response to dementia. Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe was also in attendance. He presented an overview of some of the organisation’s activities, such as its 2018 Yearbook on national dementia strategies, and the “European Dementia Monitor 2017 Comparing and benchmarking national dementia policies and strategies”.

“Such exchanges are vital to build understanding, provide inspiration and accelerate efforts towards making dementia a public health priority, which is one of the core objectives and action areas of WHO’s Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017–2025”, wrote the WHO in its meeting report. Only 16 out of 53 Member States in the European Region currently have a dementia plan or policy.