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December 2015: "Dementia, a priority of two EU Presidencies"

Alliance activities

On 1 December, MEPs Keith Taylor (UK) and Sirpa Pietikäinen (Finland) co-hosted an AE lunch debate entitled “Dementia, a priority of two EU Presidencies” in Brussels.

Mr Taylor, who is also a Vice-Chairperson of the European Alzheimer’s Alliance (EAA), welcomed the delegates and included personal mentions for each member of the European Working Group of People with Dementia.

The first speaker was Jean Georges, Executive Director of Alzheimer Europe, who presented the aims and results of AE’s Glasgow Declaration campaign. The campaign called for the development of national dementia strategies in every European country, a pan-European dementia action plan and the appointment of an EU Dementia Coordinator. At the time of the meeting, the campaign had attracted the support of 190 organisations, 148 policy makers (including 82 MEPs) and over 11,400 individual citizens.

Mr Georges was followed by Anne Calteux, Senior Policy Advisor at the Luxembourg Ministry of Health. She reviewed the dementia activities of her country’s EU presidency term, which ran during the second half of 2015. During this time, Luxembourg worked to improve access to information and develop information into policies, thus ensuring that dementia remains a public health priority in every EU country. A key activity was the informal meeting held in September, which was attended by representatives from European health ministries, EU agencies and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Luxembourg presented its national dementia strategy and a new prevention programme which attracted considerable interest. The delegates also agreed that national dementia strategies must be multisectoral - and recognised the need for increased cooperation on dementia among EU countries and on a global level.

The next speaker was from the Netherlands, which will hold the EU Presidency for the first half of 2016. Dr Jacqueline Hoogendam, Senior Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, presented “Living well with(out) dementia”. She explained that the Dutch presidency team will focus on research for prevention and care and will also encourage innovation in care and society. This will enable people with dementia to maintain their quality of life and remain active in their communities for as long as possible - and also lead to financial sustainability of Dutch care systems. The main public event will be a conference in Amsterdam in May 2016 that will largely focus on the journey through dementia.

Michael Hübel, from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, was the next speaker. His presentation clearly showed that dementia remains a public health challenge for EU member states. Mr Hübel gave an overview of recent EU-funded dementia activities, such as ALCOVE - the Joint Action Alzheimer Cooperative Valuation - and the Human Brain Project. He also described the EU’s collaborative research programmes, namely Horizon2020, IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative) and JPND. Another current effort is the second EU Joint Action on dementia: Mr Hübel noted that discussions around this project would very likely be concluded by the end of 2016. Finally, he cited the EU’s involvement in worldwide dementia initiatives with Global Action Against Dementia, the WHO and the OECD - the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Heike von Lützau-Hohlbein, Chairperson of Alzheimer Europe, was the final speaker of the day and she introduced AE’s latest publications. “Ethical dilemmas faced by health and social care professionals providing care in care homes and hospital settings” is intended as a training aid, featuring vignettes and commentaries on ethically challenging situations. The 2015 Dementia in Europe Yearbook looks at the development of dementia-friendly communities in Europe, based on input from 33 Alzheimer associations. The report gathers the latest national initiatives and highlights best practices in improving  physical environments for people with dementia.

Ms Pietikäinen, who also sits on the Alzheimer Europe Board, provided closing remarks. She expressed her appreciation of the fact that dementia was a key agenda item for the Luxembourg and Dutch EU Presidencies. Ms Pietikäinen also emphasised the continuing need to protect the legal rights of memory-disabled people. Despite their memory problems or related conditions, these people are still active citizens with needs, hopes and aspirations. These must be considered at the earliest possible stage and the people should be involved throughout the whole development and launch of new products and services.

Alzheimer Europe was pleased to welcome 67 total delegates to the lunch debate, including the members of the EWGPWD and their carers, senior officials from the European Commission and IMI, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and colleagues from 18 AE member associations.



Last Updated: Thursday 07 January 2016