Monday marked the beginning of a three-day multi-regional workshop organised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Qatar's Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to speed up implementation of the global action plan on the public health response to dementia.
The workshop brings stakeholders from WHO's African, Eastern Mediterranean and European regions, as well as ministry of health delegates, civil society representatives, people living with dementia and their families, and caregivers to address the issue of dementia and build country capacity to develop a comprehensive, multisectoral public health response to the condition.
Dr Saleh Ali al-Marri
It is an opportunity for cross-regional exchange between countries to share good practices and lessons learned in areas such as dementia policy, risk reduction, diagnosis, treatment, care and support for both dementia patients and care workers, information systems for dementia, and dementia research and innovation.
Over 55mn people are living with dementia across the globe, and this number is expected to rise to about 78mn by 2030. Dementia is a significant burden on individuals and families, and much of that burden falls on women. More women than men have dementia, and most care for people with dementia is provided by women.
"Dementia is also a huge burden on social and healthcare systems, societies and economies. For 2019, the total global economic cost of dementia was estimated at $1.3tn — equivalent to 1.5% of global gross domestic product," said Dr Ahmed al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean.
Dr Hanadi al-Hamad
He added: "This multi-regional workshop to speed up implementation of the global action plan on the public health response to dementia is therefore critically important".
Dr Saleh Ali al-Marri, Assistant Minister of Public Health, said: "The regional workshop is to expand the implementation of the Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia with the participation of 22 countries from Africa, Europe, and the Eastern Mediterranean and underscores a significant commitment and a desire to make a real difference in the lives of people with dementia and their families.
Dr al-Marri added: "The workshop provides an opportunity to exchange best practices and lessons learned in a wide range of areas including dementia policy, risk reduction, diagnosis and treatment, care and support, research, and innovation, especially since dementia is one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century and requires a multidisciplinary approach, and more than 55mn people around the world are suffering from dementia, a number that is unfortunately increasing."
He also pointed that the success of public health initiatives globally and in Qatar has increased life expectancy, which means more people are at risk of dementia and other age-related diseases.
He also added: "We have made significant progress in meeting this challenge and improving healthcare services for older persons over the past years under the guidance of HE Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari, Minister of Public Health, noting that the National Health Strategy 2018-2022 identified healthy ageing as one of the seven main priority population groups, and many of the achievements of Qatar's national dementia plan have been announced, including the establishment of the Qatar Dementia Working Group, Qatar's dementia register and participation in the World Health Organisation's Global Dementia Observatory."
Dr Hanadi al-Hamad, Senior Consultant in Geriatrics, NHS Lead of Healthy Ageing Priority, in the Ministry of Public Health, and Leader of Qatar's National Dementia Plan, said: "The regional workshop hosted by Qatar in collaboration with WHO contributes to strengthening co-operation efforts in the fight against dementia between the Ministry of Public Health and its health partners in Qatar on the one hand and WHO and international partners on the other."
She added: "Qatar's health sector continues to provide the best services for people with dementia as per the highest international standards and following Qatar's National Dementia Plan 2018-2022 aimed at developing and expanding services for people with dementia in the future, including care and support for people suffering from the disease, their caregivers and family members, to enable them to lead a decent life based on respect, independence and equality.