Oct 23, 2019

G20 health ministers commit to tackling dementia globally


When 20 health ministers from around the world met in Okayama, Japan, last week to discuss global health issues, dementia was high on their agenda.

The G20 Health Ministers Meeting brought together ministers for health from 19 countries and the European Union, as well as invited guest countries and organisations for discussion about the ongoing health commitments made in last year’s Osaka Declaration.

Commitments “welcomed”

Two leading dementia organisations, Alzheimer’s Disease International and Alzheimer’s Association Japan revealed they were “delighted” with the outcome of the meeting, and “welcomed” the commitment to tackling the issue of dementia. Both organisations had lobbied ministers heavily in advance of the meeting.

Chief Executive ADI, Paola Barbarino, said the Okayama Declaration contains all the commitments the organisation lobbied for.

“Everything we asked for in the last year is present in this Declaration, from policy making to awareness, risk reduction, care, support for carers, data and research and it includes a strong reference to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities,” she said.

“The overall framing into the importance of encouraging healthy ageing is also extremely relevant.”

But Ms Barbarino said the ADI will continue to monitor the G20’s work.

“We know that lots of wonderful words do not make this a reality and we will continue to monitor the execution of these intentions very closely, but we are heartened and encouraged and feel the G20 Health Ministers have really listened to our plea to create a better life for people living with dementia and their carers,” she said.

People living with dementia, families, caregivers the focus

Noriyo Washizu, of the AAJ, was encouraged by the Declaration. 

“One of the most significant things is that people with dementia, the families and the caregivers appeared a key focus.”

He said the AAJ will continue to work with the Japanese government to help build an inclusive society and develop new dementia strategies.

Japan is recognised as a world leader in dementia strategy, with an estimated 7 million people projected to be living with dementia in the country by 2025.

Dementia impacts health, quality of life, the economy, society

The Declaration outlines the G20’s strategies to tackle dementia.

“We recognize that dementia is one of our common challenges which has significant impacts on health, quality of life, economy and the entire society,” the document states. 

“Worldwide approximately 50 million people have dementia and there are nearly ten million new cases every year, resulting in economic costs equivalent to 1.1% of global Gross Domestic Product, according to WHO’s latest available figure.”

“We commit to developing and implementing multi-sectoral national action plans, adopting integrated approaches on dementia… to improve the quality of care and the quality of life of people with dementia, their families and caregivers.

“We will address risk factors and social determinants of dementia, according to the latest evidence and contribute to further building the evidence base. 

“We will also enhance early detection, diagnosis, and interventions, including the development of care pathways and capability and capacity building of health and primary care providers including through strengthening primary health care.

“We will promote age-friendly and dementia-inclusive environments by raising awareness to enable better understanding of dementia and prevent and overcome stigma. 

“We will promote the provision of appropriate care, including person-centered and integrated care, encouraging the engagement of all relevant stakeholders, including those at community level, and empowerment of families and caregivers to support persons with dementia.

“We will promote research and development for healthy ageing including for risk reduction, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment of dementia.”


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