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European Alzheimer's Initiative

EU Action on Dementia

In July 2009, the European Commission presented a Communication on a European initiative on Alzheimer's disease and other dementias (COM(2009) 380 final. The Communication focuses on the priorities of Alzheimer Europe's Paris Declaration:

  • public health : prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of dementia
  • research : understand the disease ; enhance coordination in research and need for sufficient epidemiological data
  • social affairs : share good practice regarding diagnosis, treatment and financing of therapies
  • legal : patients rights, autonomy and stigma.

In July 2010, Alzheimer Europe published its position paper (see download below) on the European Initiative on Alzheimer's disease, with the conclusions that:

  • The implementation of the European Commission’s Communication on a European initiative on Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias must answer the diverse needs of the people with Alzheimer’s disease, their carers, those in the medical profession and the research community. It must empower the Member States to tackle in a timely manner the social, medical and legal aspects of dementia.
  • The dignity and respect of the people with dementia must remain at the core of any action.
  • Alzheimer Europe is keen to continue contributing towards the European policy debate by providing robust and up-to-date information, engaging its member associations at grass-root level and facilitating the dissemination of the information.
  • It is crucial that the role of Alzheimer Europe be further recognised. Alzheimer Europe thus calls on the EU and national policy makers to recognise the important role of Alzheimer associations and provide them with regular financial support.

Currently, the European Parliament is in the process of writing an Own Initiative Report (INI) on the Commission Communication. The Rapporteur is Marisa Matias, MEP (Portugal, GUE/NLG group, Industry Committee) and the Shadow Rapporteurs are Elena Oana Antonescu, (Romania, EPP), Nessa Childers (Ireland, S&D), Frédérique Ries (Belgium, ALDE) and Marina Yanakoudakis (UK, ECR), Environment and Health Committee. The draft report will be adopted by the European Parliamentary Committee on the Environment, Publish Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on 30 November 2010 and the vote in plenary is expected to take place in January 2011.

On 22 July 2009, the European Commission adopted concrete proposals to tackle Alzheimer’s disease, dementias and other neurodegenerative conditions. This article considers the background to the Initiative, as well as the aims and reactions to it.

The Challenge

There are currently over seven million people with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders in Europe and it is predicted that this number will double in the next 20 years. It is vital to plan, invest and cooperate in this field today both to control the social costs of these diseases as well as to offer hope, dignity and healthier lives to the millions of sufferers and their families. The European Alzheimer Initiative marks an important new step in the Commission's 'Europe for Patients campaign' .

Due to the increasing lifespan and the decreasing ratio of working to retired populations, the social and economic burden of neurodegenerative diseases is growing. In 2005, the total direct and informal care costs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias were estimated at €130billion in the EU27 (€21 000 per patient); 56% of these costs was informal care. The most common forms of dementia in the European Union are Alzheimer’s disease (about 70% of cases), and vascular dementia (less than 30%).

Action taken

On 22 July 2009, the European Commission adopted concrete proposals to tackle Alzheimer’s disease, dementias and other neurodegenerative conditions. These shared health and social challenges require coordinated actions to ensure efficient prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care for those affected.

The objective of this European initiative is to tackle the main problems posed by Alzheimer's disease and dementias in four key areas:

  • acting early to diagnose dementia and to reduce the risk of dementia in the first place;
  • improving research coordination between EU countries;
  • sharing of best practice and
  • providing a forum to reflect on rights, autonomy and dignity of patients.

EU Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said: " Losing mental capacity to dementia is not just a normal part of getting older. As the European population ages, we must work together to better understand and prevent these conditions. We must show our solidarity to people with dementia by sharing best practice in caring for them and respecting their rights and dignity."




Last Updated: Friday 14 November 2014